TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS RESPOND TO ATA AND WERNER ENTERPRISES ALLEGATIONS

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS RESPOND TO ATA AND WERNER ENTERPRISES ALLEGATIONS

In response to recent misleading allegations made by Werner Enterprises and the American Trucking Associations at a Senate hearing, truck safety victims today sent the attached letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC) who suffered the loss of her father in a truck crash said “It is not only disingenuous, but truly insulting to families like mine who have lost a loved one in a truck crash for the trucking industry to boast about declining rates of truck fatalities. According to NHTSA data, this is the fourth year in a row that truck crash fatalities have actually increased, not decreased—we need to set the record straight.”

Jane Mathis (St. Augustine, FL) who lost her son and daughter in law in a 2004 truck crash, said “The misguided agenda by the ATA and Werner Enterprises of pushing bigger, longer trucks driven by tired truckers will continue to result in more, not less deaths and injuries on our nation’s highways.”

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February 6, 2015
The Honorable John Thune, Chairman
The Honorable Bill Nelson, Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation

The Honorable Deb Fischer, Chairman
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and
Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and Chairman Fischer:

As families who have lost loved ones in truck crashes, we are writing this letter to set the record straight about the current status of truck safety and to respond to the cynical and callous allegations made by Werner Enterprises at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security hearing on January 29, 2015, “Improving the Performance of our Transportation Networks: Stakeholder Perspectives,” and echoed by leaders of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). We respectfully request that our letter be included in the Senate hearing record.

The testimony of Werner Enterprises and recent statements by the ATA claim that truck safety is “improving” because of a meager 1.6% decline in the truck fatality rate in 2013 disregards the growing carnage on our roads and highways caused by big trucks. Unfortunately, a more important statistic measuring truck safety is the actual number of people needlessly killed in truck crashes in 2013. Recent fatality data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) shows that 3,964 people died in big truck crashes in 2013. The reality is that there was no improvement in 2013 because the death toll was higher than in 2012.

Since 2009 truck crash deaths have been steadily climbing while overall motor vehicle crash fatalities have been steadily declining, with the exception of 2012. In fact, from 2009 to 2013 there has been a significant 17% increase in truck crash deaths, or 584 more fatalities. Truck crash deaths on our nation’s highways are equivalent to a major airplane crash every week of the year. The trucking industry’s “high-fiving” because more people are being killed albeit at a slower “rate” should undermine their credibility on this issue and their relentless push in Congress for bigger, longer and more deadly trucks.

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee would challenge and reject any assertion by a hearing witness who suggested that even though there were more airplane crashes and more deaths that aviation safety was actually improving because more people, more planes and more air miles were being traveled resulting in a “lower death rate”.

We can assure you that the families and friends who buried 18,755 loved ones killed in preventable truck crashes between 2009 and 2013 do not believe that our highways are safer today because there are more trucks on the roads traveling more miles. And, neither should anyone else.

The trucking industry’s agenda of relentlessly pushing bigger, longer, overweight trucks being driven by overtired truck drivers ignores the current dismal status of truck safety and will result in even more deaths and injuries on our roads. It is unacceptable to us that the growing truck crash death toll is being masked by a statistic that measures miles and vehicles while downplaying the catastrophic loss of nearly 4,000 lives annually and ignoring the profound heartache of our families.

Sincerely,

Daphne Izer
Lisbon, ME
Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)
Mother of Jeff Izer
Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

Jennifer Tierney
Kernersville, NC
Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH)
Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)
Daughter of James Mooney
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

Dawn King
Davisburg, MI
Board Member, CRASH
Daughter of Bill Badger
Killed in a truck crash 12/23/04

Larry Liberatore
Severn, MD
Board Member, PATT
Father of Nick Liberatore
Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

Linda Wilburn
Weatherford, OK
Board Member, PATT
Mother of Orbie Wilburn
Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

Frank & Marchelle Wood
Falls Church, VA
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition
Parents of Dana Wood
Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

Jane Mathis
St. Augustine, FL
Board Member, PATT
Member, MCSAC
Mother of David Mathis, Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis
Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

Tami Friedrich Trakh
Corona, CA
Board Member, CRASH
Member, MCSAC
Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker
& Anthony Mercurio
Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

Marianne & Jerry Karth
Rocky Mount, NC
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition
Parents of AnnaLeah & Mary Karth
Killed in a truck crash 5/4/13

Michelle Novak
Franklinville, NY
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Aunt of Charles “Chuck” Novak
Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

Ron Wood
Washington, D.C.
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Son of Betsy Wood, Brother of Lisa Wood
Martin, Uncle of Chance, Brock, & Reid Martin
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/04

cc: Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation