Dawn King’s Testimony Before Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety

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Dawn King’s Testimony Before Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety

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STATEMENT OF DAWN KING, PRESIDENT, TRUCK SAFETY COALITION (TSC) AND BOARD MEMBER, CITIZENS FOR RELIABLE AND SAFE HIGHWAYS (CRASH) ON “KEEP ON TRUCKIN”: STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVES ON TRUCKING IN AMERICA” BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, & TRANSPORTATION SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND SAFETY

FEBRUARY 4, 2020

Introduction

Good morning Chairman Fischer, Ranking Member Duckworth and Members of the Subcommittee.

My name is Dawn King and I am the President of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) as well as a board member of the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, which along with Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) forms TSC. I appreciate the invitation and the opportunity to testify this morning before the Subcommittee.

I am from Davisburg, Michigan, so I am heartened that another Michigander, Senator Peters, serves on this Subcommittee. Unfortunately, I am not here before this Subcommittee today to represent families from my state but also everyone from every state who everyday uses our roads and highways. I am here today to give a voice to survivors and victims of large truck crashes and to families, like mine, who have lost a loved one in these preventable and tragic catastrophes.

My father, Bill Badger, was killed on December 23, 2004, just over the Georgia state border, by a tired trucker who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into his car. At the time of the crash, Dad was on his way to the airport to fly to New Jersey and join me and my siblings for Christmas. That year, was particularly tough for us since our Mom had passed away in July. The truck driver, who fell asleep and smashed into Dad’s car, stated that he had been driving all night in order to get to Atlanta by 7:00 a.m. so that he could be assigned to another truck which was headed to Florida in order to be with his family for Christmas. In the end, however, neither my family nor his were whole that holiday.

Shortly after Dad’s crash, my family and I were fortunate enough to connect with the Truck Safety Coalition. This wonderful organization is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT). Our shared mission is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, provide compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educate the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

Truck Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths Have Been on the Rise Since 2009

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) most recent release of data shows that fatal crashes involving at least one large truck killed 4,951 people in 2018. To put this figure in perspective for you: it is approximately 2.5 times as many people as the total number of individuals who have served in the U.S. Senate since 1789.

Since 2009, fatalities from crashes involving at least one large truck have gone up 46.5 percent, with 42 out of the 50 states experiencing increases. Unsurprisingly, the subset of states with truck speed limits of 75 mph or more saw the largest spike in deaths, rising 66.5 percent in that same time.

In that same 9-year time frame, truck crash injuries have tripled from an all-time low of 51,000 (which is still staggeringly high) to 151,000. This is an unacceptable and unconscionable trend.

Amidst this significant increase in deaths and injuries and this marked decline in truck safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers hope that members of this Subcommittee will oppose specific anti-safety policies that are being considered by Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Additionally, we urge you to support numerous lifesaving measures that can significantly reduce the death and injury toll on our roads. Truck crash deaths and injuries are a major public health problem and we urgently need Congress to direct the implementation of data-driven solutions to address the pervasive but preventable problems, like driver fatigue, distraction, and speeding, that contribute to so many truck crashes. My statement today seeks to inform Members and the public about both the dangerous policies that will further exacerbate truck safety and available safety solutions that could dramatically improve truck safety for motorists and commercial drivers.

Now is Not the Time to Weaken Truck Safety Rules and Permit Special Interest Rollbacks of Proven Safety Reforms

FMCSA Should Abandon Efforts to Weaken the Hours of Service Rules.

Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) requesting comments on unstudied, unsafe proposed changes to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, including:

  • Extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted under the adverse driving conditions exemption to the HOS rules;
  • Extending the driving window from 12 hours to 14 hours and extending the distance from 100 air miles to 150 air miles for the short haul exemption;
  • Allowing drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth; and
  • Requiring a 30 minute break after eight hours of driving time instead of on-duty time, and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty break;
  • Allowing split duty period: one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but no more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour working window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work

FMCSA’s Proposed Change = Unsafe and Unwarranted – Adverse Driving Conditions:

  • Extend by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted under the adverse driving conditions exemption to the HOS

In the NPRM, the FMCSA asserted that this proposed change to the adverse driving conditions exemption would not increase driving time or vehicle miles traveled (VMT), thus there would be no safety concern. Yet, this ignores the effect that longer shifts have on injury risks and error rates.

There is compelling research that found lengthening a work day results in increased injury risk to a worker. One study found that injury risks go up after eight hours on task, with a 30 percent increase on a 12-hour task. This validates the findings from an earlier major meta-analysis of relative risk of performance lapses over the course of different shift durations that found risk was approximately doubled after 12 hours of work and trebled after 14 hours of work. More recently, a study was performed to identify associated factors with multidimensional driving risks, specifically focusing on fatigue, sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and health status among Korean occupational drivers; one of the key findings: “those working for longer than 12 hours per day… were a vulnerable group.”

Even if a driver logs the same number of hours on duty or driving, this proposed change would result over a longer elapsed time which would result in a longer day overall.

FMCSA’s Proposed Change – Short Haul Operations:

  • Extend the driving window from 12 hours to 14 hours, and
  • Extend the distance from 100 air miles to 150 air

This proposed change will result in more truck drivers being able to be considered “short-haul” drivers which ultimately means fewer carriers being required to use electronic logging devices. Based on the FMCSA’s own reasoning in finalizing the ELD mandate, this will greatly diminish safety. In fact, the agency noted in October 2017 in the Federal Register that “[the ELD] rule improves commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety… for both motor carriers and driver by increasing the use of ELDs within the motor carrier industry, which will, in turn, improve compliance with applicable HOS rules.”

Considering the aforementioned finding, it is critical that the agency provide compelling evidence that expanding the number of long-haul truck drivers who would be eligible to employ the short-haul exception, if this proposed change is promulgated, will actually improve commercial motor vehicle safety.

Several years ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study that found a statistically significant 383 percent increase in crash risk for drivers operating under a short- haul exemption. In light of this startling statistic, it seems unlikely that the FMCSA will furnish data showing that this proposed change will benefit to CMV safety. In fact, our streets and roads will be even more dangerous and the change should be summarily rejected.

FMCSA’s Proposed Change – Sleeper Berth:

  • Allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two periods: one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper

The split sleep berth exception must ensure that a truck driver has enough time to achieve restorative sleep. A recent study published in Transportation Research Part F, indicates that “in previous studies, sleeping duration less than seven hours has been associated with increased cases of drowsy driving crashes among truck drivers (Tzamalouka et al., 2005). Drivers who were partially sleep deprived (sleeping less than 4-h daily) were found to be at 4.8 folds higher risk of falling asleep at the wheel as compared to the sufficiently sleeping (6–8 h) drivers.

Similarly, Maia et al. (2013) also found that as compared to the drivers taking appropriate sleep of 7 h, the drivers taking short (6 h) and very short (<5 h) duration of sleep were at 2 and 3.8 times higher risk of drowsy driving respectively.”

Based on these compelling studies, the FMCSA should immediately rescind this alarming proposed change until they can provide undisputed research and information disproving the adverse effects of sleeping less than seven hours.

FMCSA’s Proposed Change – 30-Minute Break:

  • Require a break after eight hours of driving time instead of on-duty time, and
  • Allow the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty

At a time when truck occupant deaths are at their highest levels since 1989, the FMCSA must provide convincing evidence and peer-reviewed research that removing the requirement of a 30- minute break after 8 hours of on-duty time will improve safety, for truck drivers and the general public.

The FMCSA acknowledges in their NPRM that these proposed “changes to the 30-minute break provision… do not involve any increase to the 11-hour driving limit.” While this may be true, this change could result in a driver working 11 hours before he can take a 30-minute break. This is unquestionably dangerous. A 2013 study found “that time-on-task across 14 hours of work impacts risk. The risk of being involved in a [safety critical event] generally increased as work hour increased. That is, driving time that occurred later in the driver’s workday, due to performing non-driving tasks earlier in the workday, had a negative safety effect.”

Other research corroborates the notion that extending continuous time on task, which this change would do, has a deleterious effect on safety. Simo Salminen, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, reviewed eight studies that showed the “risk of occupational injury was 41 percent higher for 10-hour working days compared to 8-hour working days… [and] when working more than 12 hours per day, three studies showed a 98% increase in involvement in occupational injury. The results of this study showed that shift work considerably increased the risk of occupational injury in the USA… Extended working hours was related to elevated risk of occupational injury” (emphasis added).

No data has been provided to determine the safety benefit of substituting a full 30-minute off- duty break with the proposed 30-minute on-duty break. Specifically, the FMCSA has not assessed the impact of a potential change on worker performance at the end of the day, whether it is a 14- hour day or a 17-hour that could be achieved if the split-duty proposal is promulgated.

FMCSA’s Proposed Change – Split-Duty Period:

  • Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but no more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour working window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work

This proposed change would extend a truck driver’s day to 17 hours elapsed time. While there are no studies examining the effect on safety of this longer day, it is worth reiterating: “driving time that occurred later in the driver’s workday, due to performing non-driving tasks earlier in the workday, had a negative safety effect.”

The proposal also does not limit the use of the 17-hour window throughout the workweek. This is extremely troubling considering that the FMCSA has not studied the effects this will have on cumulative fatigue, which has been acknowledged as a serious, but ultimately preventable, safety concern.

Lastly, our organization is concerned that this may be used by high risk carriers and/or in concert with existing exceptions, like the one that exists for the transportation of livestock. Used together by a high risk carrier, this could allow an unsafe truck driver to operate well over 24 hours continuously because “time spent working within the 150 air-mile radius does not count toward the driver’s daily and weekly limit.”

Each of these proposed changes threatens safety by themselves, but if they are used in combination and without restrictions on which carriers may employ them, the results could be devastating. We hope that the Members of the Subcommittee will urge the FMCSA to immediately withdraw all five of these proposals.

Exemptions to the HOS Rules for Agricultural Commodities Sacrifice Safety and Undermine Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Efforts.

Transporters of agricultural commodities and farm supplies for agricultural purpose already enjoy exceptions to the Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Devices rules. Unfortunately, efforts by Congress and inappropriate actions taken by the FMCSA have expanded the scope of exemptions.

Prior to the enactment of MAP-21, drivers transporting “agricultural commodities” and “farm supplies for agricultural purposes” within a 100 air-mile radius (~115 miles) were exempt from the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Following enactment of MAP-21, the regulatory exception was extended to 150 air-mile radius (~172.5 miles). Then, on May 31, 2018, the FMCSA released regulatory guidance applicable to all transporters of agricultural commodities, 49 CFR 395.1(k)(1), but does not address “farm supplies for agricultural purposes” under 49 CFR 395.1(k)(2) or (3).

The Truck Safety Coalition strongly opposed these past congressional actions as well as the agency’s inappropriate use of regulatory guidance to further expand the agricultural commodity exception to life-saving rules that help prevent truck driver fatigue. Below are critical reasons:

  • Exemptions to HOS Regulations Weaken Safety – Exemptions to Federal motor carrier safety regulations compromise safety, erode uniformity, and weaken enforcement
  • Regulatory Changes Cannot Occur Through Issuance of Guidance – The FMCSA’s does not have the legal authority to enact such a regulatory change through a guidance. The statute and ensuing regulation denote that the exception for transporters of agricultural commodities is for drivers engages in trips within the 150 air-mile radius, not beyond it. Moreover, the guidance creates a legal definition of source without legislation or a rulemaking.
  • The Regulatory Guidance is Unstudied and Unsafe – Permitting drivers to operate within a 172 mile radius of a source, which includes not only farms and ranches but also intermediate storage and loading facilities, during planting and harvesting periods, which are year round in some states, will contribute totruck driver fatigue. The public shares the roads with large trucks, including haulers of agricultural commodities, and these changes put motorists and truck drivers at risk of death and serious

The Truck Safety Coalition urges the Members of the Subcommittee to review the FMCSA’s Regulatory Guidance Exempting Transporters of Agricultural Commodities from Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device Mandates, and to oppose any additional efforts to further expand this dangerous special interest exemption.

Research and Data Clearly Warn About the Dangers of Teenage Truckers.

The Truck Safety Coalition strongly oppose efforts to change federal requirements to allow drivers under the age of 21 to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce for several reasons:

  • Years of research and data clearly show that 18-20-year-old drivers have significantly higher crash rates;
  • The impetus for this change – a shortage of truck drivers – is a myth perpetuated by those with a pecuniary interest in lowering the legal age for interstate truck operations;
  • The FMCSA has not analyzed data from the 48 states that could provide data on the safety records of 18-20 year old drivers who currently operate in intrastate commerce;
  • The So-Called DRIVE-Safe Act is anything but safe. The so-called protections are meaningless and

The Available Data Show that 18-20 Year-Old Drivers are More Likely to Crash.

Research that examined the effect of age on the operation of a large truck found that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and that CMV drivers between the ages of 19 to 20 are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. These statistics alone should stop legislation from moving advancing with this pernicious policy.

 

However, there is even more compelling and convincing data that show all drivers ages 18 to20 are less safe and more likely to crash than an older driver. Based on 2017 federal crash data analyzed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers ages 18 to 19 are 2.3 times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older (up to age 84) to be in a fatal crash and nearly 3.5 times more likely to be involved in any police reported crash. Moreover, a recent report analyzing 10 years of fatal crash data involving teen drivers from the Governors Highway Safety Association revealed two other disconcerting data points about 18 to 20 year old drivers: 1) 19- year-olds accounted for the greatest number of teen drivers killed during this 10-year period, followed by 20- and 18-year olds; and, 2) older teens (18- 20-years-old) were twice as likely as their younger counterparts to be involved in a fatal crash between midnight and 6 a.m.

The Impetus for This Change – A Shortage of Truck Drivers – is a Myth Perpetuated by Those with a Pecuniary Interest in Lowering the Legal Age for Interstate Truck Operations.

There is no truck driver shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Report, “Is the U.S. labor market for truck drivers broken?” from September 2018: “The occupation of truck driving is often portrayed by the industry and in the popular press as beset by high levels of turnover and persistent “labor shortages”… [But] a deeper look does not find evidence of a secular shortage.”

Additionally, an investigative report by Barron’s, “Busting the ‘Truck Shortage’ Myth,” found that the Truck Driver Shortage Analysis from which this myth derives was “vague about its methodology, simply asserting that a shortage exists and will get worse over time as demand rises and existing truck drivers retire.”

Upon reading the Barron’s expose, the Truck Safety Coalition reviewed the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Truck Driver Shortage Analysis from 2015, 2017, and 2019 as well as The U.S. Truck Driver Shortage: Analysis and Forecasts prepared for the ATA by Global Insight, Inc. in May of 2005. While the latter report has formed the underlying basis on which the shortage myth is predicated, there are several assumptions the 2005 report makes that did not come to fruition and should thus call into question the accuracy of any report, study, or assertion by trucking interests that references it.

The FMCSA Has Not Analyzed Data from the 48 states that Could Provide Statistics on the Safety Records of 18-20 Year-Old Drivers who Currently Operate in Intrastate Commerce.

Collecting safety data from the 48 states where truck drivers ages 18 to 20 can operate within state lines should be the agency’s first step before moving forward with this potentially risky pilot program. Doing so would help the agency determine if these 18-20 year old drivers are, in fact, as safe as or safer than the average truck driver who operates in interstate commerce.

Currently, all but two states allow teen truck drivers to operate in intrastate commerce so there should be adequate data on the relative crash risks of teen truckers that operate within state lines.

For example, the Truck Safety Coalition requested data on truck driver by age from the state of New York. Their data revealed that from 2009 to 2017, there was a 12.6 percent increase in the total number of truck drivers involved in crashes within New York, but for truck drivers age 18- 20 involved in crashes in NY that figure jumped 17.8 percent in that same time. Clearly, figures like this undermine arguments that younger truck drivers will be as safe as or safer than older drivers.

The So-Called DRIVE-Safe Act is Anything But Safe. So-called Protections are Meaningless and Insufficient.

The Truck Safety Coalition strongly opposes all efforts to lower the driving age for interstate trucking, including enactment of the so-called “DRIVE-Safe Act” (H.R. 1374/S. 569).

The probationary period, which is far too short, requires teen truckers to train on commercial vehicles equipped with certain safety technologies. While the legislation denotes that these younger, less safe drivers must learn to operate trucks equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and heavy vehicle speed limiters, there is nothing in the bill requiring them to do so after their brief probation. The consequence of this could be deadly. A teen trucker, who learned to drive a big-rig where the speed is limited at 65 mph and equipped AEB may be operating a truck without those technologies.

TSC strongly opposes the FMCSA’s pilot program as well as currently introduced legislation to allow teen truckers to operate in interstate commerce. In the face of ample research showing that teen drivers are much less safe and more likely to crash than their older cohorts, the FMCSA has furnished no evidence that introducing this age demographic of truck drivers to interstate operations will in any way improve safety. In fact, the opposite will occur.

Urgent Action Needed Now to Strengthen Truck Safety Rules, Promote Data- Driven Strategies and Require Proven Safety Technologies.

Research and Practice Prove the Effectiveness of Automatic Emergency Braking and Speed Limiters to Reduce Truck Crash Deaths and Injuries.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a commercial motor vehicle safety technology that has been proven through years of use by leading trucking companies to reduce the number of crashes their truck drivers are involved in and to mitigate the severity of truck crashes that do occur.

The Truck Safety Coalition, along with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) and the Center for Auto Safety, filed a petition to initiate a rulemaking that would mandate automatic emergency braking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted this petition in October of 2015. Since then, several pieces of legislation, including the Safe Roads Act (H.R. 3773) and the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act (S. 2700 | H.R. 4871) have been introduced to require the installation and use of this lifesaving technology with minimum performance requirements. We commend Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Ranking Member, of this Subcommittee for her leadership in co-sponsoring this legislation with Sen. Richard Durbin.

The safety benefits of AEB technology are well known. In the United States, some motor carriers have been using AEB for at least 10 years and have established beyond question its effectiveness and reliability. For example, Con-way (now a part of XPO Logistics) saw reductions in their rear- end crashes after they equipped their trucks with AEB. The company performed an internal study to determine the extent to which a suite of safety technologies (AEB, electronic stability control (ESC), and lane departure warning) installed on the trucks in its fleet reduced the frequency of various types of collisions. They found that trucks equipped with the suite of safety systems had a lower crash rate and frequency of engagement in risky driving behavior compared to vehicles without such systems; these trucks exhibited a 71 percent reduction in rear-end collisions and a 63 percent decrease in unsafe following behaviors. Similarly, Schneider National, a major trucking company, experienced a 69 percent decrease in rear-end crashes and 95 percent reduction in rear-end collision claims since it began equipping all new tractors with OnGuard Collision Mitigation Systems in 2012.

In the past, a major concern with requiring this technology had been cost. Previously cited figures pegged the price of AEB at around $2,500. However, this figure is grossly inaccurate. A September 2018 study by the NHTSA found that the incremental cost of automatic emergency braking systems to the end-user (i.e a truck driver) is $70.80-$316.18. We expect that when AEB becomes standard equipment on all newly manufacturer trucks that the cost will drop significantly as it has with other safety equipment required on cars and buses.

Additionally, there is convincing and evidence confirming that speed limiters make trucking safer. This life-saving technology is not new, and has actually been a standard component in most trucks’ engine control modules since the late 1990s. This is because so many other countries, like Germany, United Kingdom, and France, already require their use on commercial motor vehicles. In light of this fact, most trucks in the United States would not require a retrofit to have this technology but would instead simply need to have their speed limiter set.

It should not come as a surprise that many of the most profitable trucking companies voluntarily set their trucks to safe speeds. Speed limiters also help motor carriers save significant money on fuel as well as on maintenance costs for tires and brakes, which last longer by limiting excessive speeding that can exacerbate normal wear and tear. More importantly, it improves the safety of their fleet and reduces the maximum potential damage their trucks can cause in the event they do crash.

The research confirms what these trucking companies know from practice: speed limiters make trucks safer. The FMCSA’s own road-based study from 2012 found that heavy trucks not using their speed limiters were involved in highway-speed crashes at twice the rate of those using them.

Several years later, the Province of Ontario conducted a study to review the effectiveness of requiring large trucks to use speed limiters. The Province found that the incidence of heavy trucks speeding in a crash dropped a dramatic 73 percent following implementation of the speed limiter mandate. Another important finding of this study was that it directly debunked the claim that speed differentials would lead to an increase in overall crashes involving big rigs. In fact, the study found no evidence of such an increase.

Increasing the Minimum Levels of Insurance Required by  Motor Carriers is Long Overdue. Too Many Families Have Suffered Since 1980.

The minimum level of insurance of $750,000 for commercial motor carriers has not been increased in the U.S. in 40 years. Neither has it been adjusted for inflation or, more appropriately, for medical cost inflation. Consequently, some families not only face the physical and emotion hardship of losing a loved one but also the financial devastation caused by under- insured motor carriers.

According to the legislative intent of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 (Pub. L 96-296), minimum levels of insurance were meant to serve as a barrier to entry for unsafe carriers and to shift the burden of oversight from the government to the private sector (i.e. the insurers). Sadly, insurers fail to apply appropriate scrutiny because the amounts are so abysmally low.

In order to remedy this issue, we urge Senate introduction of a companion bill to the INSURANCE Act (H.R. 3781), which increases this minimum to account for medical cost inflation and then index it to that measure every five years. Since 1980, truck weight limits have increased significantly as have speed limits for trucks; the combination of these two changes has resulted in an increase in crash severity.

Strengthening Rear Underride Guards and Requiring Side Underride Guards are Long Overdue.

In a truck underride crash, a passenger vehicle travels under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment safety features. As you can imagine, or if you’ve seen this type of crash, the results are catastrophic, especially when passenger compartment intrusion occurs. In order to prevent this type of collision, trailers can be equipped with energy-absorbing rear and side underride guards that would protect car occupants from going underneath at certain speeds.

While rear underride guards are required, crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) clearly demonstrate that the rear underride guards mandated for trailers by NHTSA in 1998 performed poorly. Furthermore, there are underride guards available today that far exceed the proposed force requirement by up to 70 percent.

In light of this important finding coupled with the known safety benefits of rear underride guards, there has been a recent push to strengthen the requirements for rear underride guards in the U.S. After two Roundtable events hosted at IIHS, which brought together safety advocates, engineers, and trucking interests, major progress on rear underrides has occurred in two ways: 1) Eight out of the eight leading trailer manufacturers have developed rear underride guards that qualify for the IIHS ToughGuard rating, which greatly exceeds the existing federal standard by preventing underride crashes at 100, 50, and 30 percent overlaps at 35 mph, and 2) there is growing consensus in support, evidenced by Mr. Pugh noting just last week that “We [OOIDA] agree to the rear guards. We don’t have a problem with that.”

We urge Senate passage of bi-partisan legislation, the Stop Underrides Act (S. 665), which would not only strengthen the requirement for rear underride guards, but would comprehensively improve underride protections on all sides of a tractor-trailer.  This bill is sponsored by Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand and co-sponsored by many Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee including Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Sen. Ed Markey, Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Gary Peters and Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Conclusion

On behalf of the Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers, I urge Congress to advance these bills and provide the much-needed actions and oversight to improving truck safety. To rollback truck safety protections and pass bills that degrade safety will lead to more crashes, deaths, injuries and costs. Before this week is over nearly 100 people will needlessly die in a truck crash, the equivalent of a major airplane crash and hundreds of families will mourn the loss of a loved one just like I did when my father was killed.

The families of victims and survivors of large truck crashes remain hopeful that Members of this Subcommittee will ensure that safety never takes a back seat to profits or political pressure. Too many families in your states and across the country are depending on you to make the right decision to keep us safe as we share the roads with large trucks.

To close, I want to take this opportunity to wish my dad a happy birthday. Had he not been needlessly killed by a tired trucker 15 years ago, he would have turned 91 years old today. I love you Dad.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and I am pleased to answer your questions.

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Underride Roundtable 2015

The Truck Safety Coalition co-hosted the first ever Underride Roundtable at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safetys testing facility in Ruckersville, VA. The conference brought together researchers, safety advocates, government officials, and industry leaders to discuss truck underride crashes, examine the scope of the problem, and determine how to reduce the risks for passenger vehicle occupants through regulation and voluntary action. A crash test was also conducted to demonstrate improved underride guards.

underride roundtable 2015

“This conference is a critical milestone in the decades-long effort to strengthen underride protections for large trucks to prevent needless injuries and fatalities,” said John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “We hope that today’s discussion will spur swift industry and government action on underride which has long been recognized as a major safety issue.”

John Lannen continued, “Reviewing the research underscored startling data that demonstrate the need for long-overdue action to prevent underride crashes. At this conference, however, we did not stop at identifying the issues. We also worked to identify common ground to create commonsense reforms that have a meaningful impact on safety.”

At the conference, Jennifer Tierney, a board member of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), presented the Distinguished Safety Leadership Award to Greer Woodruff, Senior Vice President of Safety, Security, and Driver Personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. for his outstanding and longtime dedication to improving truck safety.

“I have been advocating for stronger underride guards after my father, James Mooney, was killed in a truck underride crash thirty-three years ago. While many lives would have been saved had there been action following his death, this Underride Roundtable is major step in the right direction” stated Jennifer Tierney. “I look forward to working with government and industry officials as a member of the Underride Initiative at the Truck Safety Coalition to achieve a goal of zero underride crashes.”

Were you unable to attend the Underride Roundtable? View the entire event here: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1100569

Truck Safety Awards – Press Release

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The roundtable was organized and sponsored by

IIHS, the Truck Safety Coalition and Annaleah & Mary for Truck Safety

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Underride Roundtable Articles

WLMT TV (Memphis)

http://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/parents-turn-tragedy-of-losing-son-into-life-saving-mission

WVIR TV (Charlottesville, VA)

http://www.nbc29.com/story/31903456/iihs-unveils-new-safety-improvements-for-tractor-trailers

The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)

http://pilotonline.com/news/media/videos/safety-group-tests-rear-crash-bar-on-trucks/youtube_4f226daa-f4c2-59bc-8f7e-c720d4fe360e.html

Truckinginfo.com

htp://www.truckinginfo.com/news/story/2016/05/truck-safety-coalition-honors-industry-leaders-for-safety-commitment.aspx

Trucks.com

https://www.trucks.com/2016/05/06/traffic-experts-debate-how-to-prevent-deadly-truck-crashes/

Business Wire

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160505006752/en/Greer-Woodruff-J.B.-Hunt-Transport-Services-Recognized

Gobytrucknews.com

http://www.gobytrucknews.com/tsc-recognizes-safety-leaders/123

Automotive World

http://www.automotiveworld.com/news-releases/truck-underride-roundtable-addresses-problem-deadly-crashes/

Rocky Mount Telegram (NC)

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/News/2016/05/13/Underride-roundtable-generates-awareness.html

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Karth, Anna Leah and Mary

AnnaLeah and MaryAnnaLeah Karth

DOB: May 15, 1995

DOD: May 4, 2013

AnnaLeahMary Lydia Karth

DOB: August 6, 1999

DOD: May 8, 2013

Mary KarthLink to AnnaLeah and Mary for Truck Safety: http://annaleahmary.com/about/

karth-annaleah-mary-muskegon

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A Davis Man Died on I-80 Truck Wreck in Contra Costa County, CA

On April 21, 2016, at approximately 3:22 a.m., when Angela Valenzuela, 25 had to stop on I-80 freeway due to an earlier accident. As he is waiting for the flow of traffic to resume, Mr.  Valenzuela was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.

The truck and Mr. Valenzuela’s vehicle collided in an area of the highway where lanes blocked off for overnight Caltrans work.

According to CHP Officer Brandon Correia, the vehicles were pushed toward the center divider and careened back into traffic. Three more vehicles were then crashed while trying to avoid the first crash.

Mr. Valenzuela died at the scene. The crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: https://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

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Truck Safety Coalition Honors Industry Leaders for Safety Commitment

The Truck Safety Coalition has honored three trucking industry leaders for commitment and dedication to fleet safety.

TSC, often seen as an “anti-truck” group, presented the Distinguished Safety Leadership Award to Greer Woodruff, senior vice president of safety, security and driver personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport Services.

The group gave special recognition for J.B. Hunt’s purchase of 4,000 Wabash trailers with enhanced rear underride protections. The underride guards are engineered to prevent underride crashes at higher impact speeds and overlap percentages. Woodruff was also recognized for using telematics to supervise driving behaviors and enhanced drug testing procedures to promote safe driving at J.B. Hunt.

“The Truck Safety Coalition commends Greer Woodruff for his strong commitment to advancing truck safety during his 28 years at J.B. Hunt,” said John Lannen, executive director of the TSC. “I applaud Woodruff and his team for their tireless efforts to eliminate all crashes involving J.B. Hunt drivers and equipment.”

In addition to Woodruff, TSC announced that Reggie Dupre, CEO of Dupre Logistics, and Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA, will receive the Truck Safety Leadership Award at a later date.

Dupre was noted for implementing a training program for drivers, a fatigue management plan that includes hourly pay for many of Dupre Logistics’ drivers, and the use of “common-sense safety technologies.”

“We also commend Mr. Dupre for his involvement in the Trucking Alliance, which supports an increase for the minimum insurance required by motor carriers, and recently announced its opposition to efforts going on right now in the United States Senate to roll back federal hours of service rules for truck drivers,” said Jane Mathis, vice president of the Truck Safety Coalition.

Williams is a founder of the Trucking Alliance and has advocated for electronic logging devices and opposed increases to truck size and weight. He has also implemented collision avoidance technology on fleet vehicles, including electronic stability control, collision mitigation systems, and lane departure warning systems with forward-looking cameras.

“Steve Williams, Reggie Dupre and Greer Woodruff and their companies are leaders in the Trucking Alliance,” said Lane Kidd, who serves as managing director of the Trucking Alliance. “And these awards are further recognition of their commitment to reduce accidents and a belief that we must work with all transportation stakeholders to promote greater highway safety for truck drivers and motorists alike.”

The Truck Safety Coalition is made up of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers. The group is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes and provides support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims.

Link: http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/story/2016/05/truck-safety-coalition-honors-industry-leaders-for-safety-commitment.aspx

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Change is Hard: Dawn King’s Comments on the Underride Roundtable

by Dawn King, President of the Truck Safety Coalition

Crash dummy survives!

Crash dummies waiting to go to work.
I’d never been a witness to a test crash before. I suppose not many people have. It’s kind of a surreal experience, especially for a person that’s had a loved one die in a violent crash.My husband and I, along with several other of our truck safety volunteers attended an all day conference at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in Charlottesville Virginia on Thursday.

And it wasn’t just us in attendance.

In an unprecedented move truck companies, trailer manufacturers, safety advocates, bicycle and pedestrian representatives, policy makers, and researchers were all together in one room to talk about the problem of truck underride.

Most of you don’t know what truck underride is, and I wish I didn’t have to explain it to you. But because our country is a generation behind Europe you probably haven’t seen a truck sporting a side guard to keep a car from traveling under the trailer in a crash.

Perhaps, if you’ve been in New York City or Boston recently, you’ve seen city trucks with side guards; those two cities have now mandated this safety precaution after several bicyclists and pedestrians were killed by falling beneath the trailers and being crushed by the wheels.

Side and rear underride is a huge problem outside cities too. As you pass a semi out on the freeway, and if it’s safe, glance over and see where the underside of that trailer would hit you if you slid under. Just about the height of your head. And if you slide under your airbags won’t deploy as there would be no impact of the engine and front of your car. The first impact would be the windshield, and that won’t save you.

And don’t think you’re safe if you hit a semi from behind. Many of the rear guards were built to 1953 standards and will collapse if you hit them with any speed. Once again, the only thing between your head and the back of that trailer will be the windshield.

In the lobby of IIHS.  No airbags in the old days.

So for years safety advocates, including the Truck Safety Coalition, has been asking the Department of Transportation to require better rear guards, and to start the process to mandate side guards. It’s another one of those no-brainer things that we just can’t seem to get done through normal channels.

Thursday’s conference wasn’t a normal channel. Never before has the industry met with the safety people to discuss making changes that would move ahead of any regulations that might some day come out of the D.O.T. Never before has such candid conversations been held, without animosity, without rancor, with only safety in mind.

It was amazing.

At noon we went into the lab and watched a test crash of a Malibu slamming at 35 mpr into the back of a semi trailer that had been equipped with a new, stronger rear guard. Some of us weren’t sure we wanted to witness such a thing, but we’re all glad we did.

The dummy survived this crash because the rear guard was strong.

Because in this case the new rear guard held up and the passenger compartment, crash dummy inside, was not penetrated. (You can watch the crash test here.) Everyone inside this particular car would have survived. For many people the test crash was the highlight of the day. But I thought the highlight was later in the program.

During the day we had speakers from New York City and Boston tell us about the processes they went through requiring side guards on trucks within their city limits. We had speakers from government talking about where in the regulatory process we are, speakers from trailer manufacturers talking about stronger rear guards that are ready for market now, from a truck company that has ordered 4,000 of the new, safer rear guards, and from Virginia Tech students who showed us their own new design for a stronger, safer rear guard.

Explaining one of their designs they didn't end up choosing to build.

Those students almost made me cry. They were undergraduates, the project assigned to them was to build a better rear guard for a semi truck. They, like most people, had never heard of underride crashes before. They learned about the problem, dreamed up a number of potential solutions, weeded their options down to four, and then figured out which one was the most plausible, most acceptable to both the trucking industry and safety advocates.

And then they built a it.

Virginia Tech student and a Truck Safety Volunteer who has been fighting for side guards since her dad was killed 33 years ago.

Incredibly 18 and 19 year old young people spent a year on this project, realized the importance of their work, and were brave enough to come and speak about it to a group of adults working in the industry. They were excited about their design and proud to show it off. And a room full of jaded adults sat respectfully listening, leaning forward, following along, congratulation the students at the end for a good design, inviting them to join the industry after they graduate. To think that this whole room of people, including the kids, was there to make the roads safer for everyone. Well. That just about made me tear up.

It should make you tear up too.

Because change is happening. It’s happening because we’ve moved past regulations and asked the industry to listen and to do what’s right. And they are responding. Not everyone. And not every request. But some. And some change will lead to more change. And every step we make toward safety saves another life.

Change is hard. But it’s not impossible.

Link: https://dawnkinster.wordpress.com/ 

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Underride Roundtable Pictures

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Traffic Experts Debate How to Prevent Deadly Truck Underride Crashes

By James R. Healy | May 6, 2016

Big trucks need improved underride guards, trucking industry executives, government officials and safety activists agree, but opinions diverge sharply on the design and cost of the safety measures.

That’s what emerged from an all-day conference on deadly underride crashes at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Va. Thursday.

Big trucks “are not in any way crash-friendly,” said Robert Molloy, director of highway safety at the National Transportation Safety Board.

Underride is when a passenger vehicle crashes into a semi-tractor trailer or a straight truck from behind or from the side and jams underneath, flattening the passenger compartment and injuring or killing the vehicle’s occupants. The term also describes what happens when bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists slide under the body of a truck, usually from the side, and are in danger of being run over.

The industry should “move heaven and earth to make the best-possible protection,” said Marianne Karth.

Karth’s teenage daughters AnnaLeah and Mary, riding in the back seat, died from injuries in a 2013 underride accident. Karth’s Ford Crown Victoria was hit by a truck, spun, hit again and shoved backwards under another semi-trailer, flattening the rear of the passenger compartment.

Federal regulations require trailers and some straight trucks to be equipped with rear underride guards – the bars than hang down on the back of trucks and trailers. In fact, regulation requiring modest underride guards have been in place in the U.S. since 1953.

“It’s incredible that we have vehicles today that we can underride,” Molloy said.

The traffic safety community has resolved similar problems previously, he said.

As sport-utility vehicles became popular in the 1990s their high-riding stance increased damage to cars in crashes.
Regulators and the auto industry, he said, “were quick to act, and now we have vehicles that are more compatible.”

While acknowledging the truck problem, speakers at the roundtable differed on whether the guards should wrap around the truck or trailer, how much the extra weight might cut into payload, and how much the upgrades would increase cost.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering a new standard for the guards – partly because of a petition from Karth – but some participants at the roundtable argued that the any likely regulation won’t go far enough to prevent more deadly underride crashes.

To demonstrate the problem, IIHS, an insurance industry trade group, crash-tested the latest-design Stoughton trailer, slamming a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan into the back of the stationary trailer hooked to a semi-tractor and laden with 34,100 lbs. The test, which IIHS called successful, showed that the trailer’s new-design rear underride guard didn’t intrude into the passenger compartment, making the crash survivable.

The test was what’s called a 30 percent, where a portion of the driver’s side of the car smashes the underride bar.

The collision occurs at 35 mph, the speed at which federal regulations require that a vehicle is strong enough so that its occupants survive a crash.

Stoughton says the new-design rear bars will be standard starting late this year, but refused to provide a cost figure. The company did say the beefier bars would add very little weight, thus not cutting into payload capacity of the trailers.

The biggest change: Four supports across the horizontal bar, not just two. The new ones are on the outer ends of the bar, and all are fastened to a more robust undercarriage, Stoughton says.

As recently as 2013, only Manac had trailers with underride bars that passed the institute’s 30% offset crash test. Now, Vanguard, Wabash and Stoughton trailers also make the cut.

Trailers from Great Dane, Hyundai, Strick and Utility don’t past the test, the institute said.

One manufacturer said the fix is easy and not expensive. Moving the supports farther apart and strengthening the trailer floor to protect cars can be done for $20, and adds just 20 lbs., said Charles Dutil, president of Trailer-maker Manac.

NHTSA has said the fix is much costlier, averaging $2,000. IIHS disputes that figure as too high.

Regardless, the cost and extra weight – 60 lbs. was mentioned several times here — are unlikely to be undue burdens for independent owners-operators, said John Housego of Cary, N.C., who attended the roundtable. He owns a 2010 Freightliner semi-tractor, a 2015 Great Dane trailer and leases an older temperature-controlled trailer when needed for a job.

Housego said he’s willing to spend $1,000 or more on a rear underride-guard retrofit unit that would meet any new federal standard for the rig he owns, but not for a leased trailer.

He also agreed with industry representatives on a panel who said semi-trailer side skirts now used for fuel-saving streamlining could be made more rugged so they’d also serve as underride prevention devices in side crashes.

Panelist Robert Martineau, chief executive of Airflow Deflector, says his panels easily could be made sturdier to serve as crash bumpers as well as aerodynamic aids. He said he couldn’t say what the cost would be until he knows how much force such a panel would be required to withstand.

Officials from New York and Boston at the conference said they put side guards on city-owned trucks, such as waste haulers, and require companies that contract with the cities to install side guards to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle riders.

Kris Carter, of the Boston’s mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, said when that city began putting side guards onto city vehicles, “it averaged about $1,300 at rollout, the range for us in about $1,000 and $1,800, depending on the vehicle.”

There’s uncertainty over the seemingly straightforward notion of how many people are killed each year in all types of underride accidents.

Federal data from the widely used Fatality Analysis Reporting System logged 5,081 deaths from 1994 to 2014.

Yearly counts range from a low of 198 in 2001 to a high of 299 in 2002. The 2014 count is 228; 2015 data aren’t available yet.

But a September 2013 report from the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine calculated that fatalities from one type of underride collision, the side-crash, are about three times as frequent as the federal data indicates. That’s why some critics are saying the federal data does not represent an accurate fatality count from all types of underride crashes.

The underride crash problem has been debated for decades. Back in 1991 NHTSA rejected extending requirements to prevent underride crashes, stating, “Combination truck side underride countermeasures have been determined not to be cost effective.”

Link: https://www.trucks.com/2016/05/06/traffic-experts-debate-how-to-prevent-deadly-truck-crashes/

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Laurie and Randy Higginbotham Interview – Underride Round Table

Parents Turn Tragedy Of Losing Son Into Life Saving Mission

In November 2014, 33 year old Michael Higginbotham died when his car crashed into a tractor trailer on Walnut Grove near I-240.
The truck driver was making an illegal U-turn.
His parents, Laurie and Randy, began working with advocacy groups to improve truck safety features so another family will not have to go through the same pain.
“He was just a wonderful young man making it in the world doing what you’re supposed to do: having a job, paying taxes, being a productive citizen and all that was taken away on November 18 of 2014,” said Michael’s mother Laurie Higginbotham.
It has been roughly a year and a half since Michael was killed in a car crash with a semi truck on Walnut Grove.
It happened after midnight. The 33 year old was going east on Walnut Grove Road and had just crossed Yates Road when he hit the truck’s trailer.
“Because none of the airbags or anything like that came into play he was killed instantly,” recalled Laurie.
This week the Higginbothams drove to Virginia for a national conference on truck underride crashes.
Government and industry leaders will talk about solutions to reduce truck underride deaths and injuries. The gathering is part of the couple’s new normal to try and help others.
“You shouldn’t have to bury your children. Losing a child is the toughest thing that’s ever happened to me,” said Randy Higginbotham.
“We need the trucks. They need to get the goods to where they need to be and but there should be some safety features that the trucking industry itself can adopt  that keeps all of us in passenger vehicles a little safer cause we’re no match against them.”
A crash test of a truck with an improved underride guard will take place at the conference tomorrow.

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TRUCK SAFETY COALITION RECOGNIZES INDUSTRY LEADERS FOR COMMITMENT TO SAFETY

Arlington, VA (May 5, 2016) – At a time when truck crashes are increasing nationwide and truck safety rules are under attack by special interests in Congress, the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) recognizes three individuals who stand out for their safety leadership in the motor carrier industry. This happens against the backdrop of the U.S. Senate scheduled next week to take up a transportation spending bill, which includes a provision to roll back the federal rule governing the maximum hours a truck driver can drive and work. Their efforts within their own companies underscore why each of these trucking executives continue to be examples of how good corporate policies can also have good public health and safety results.

The Truck Safety Coalition presented the Distinguished Safety Leadership Award to Greer Woodruff, Senior Vice President of Safety, Security, and Driver Personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. for his outstanding and longtime dedication to improving truck safety. The award was presented during the Underride Roundtable at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s testing facility in Ruckersville, VA. The conference brought together researchers, safety advocates, government officials, and industry leaders to discuss truck underride crashes, examine the scope of the problem, and determine how to reduce the risks for passenger vehicle occupants through regulation and voluntary action.

“The Truck Safety Coalition commends Greer Woodruff for his strong commitment to advancing truck safety during his 28 years at J.B. Hunt. In particular, we want to recognize his support for his company’s forward-thinking purchase of 4,000 Wabash trailers with enhanced rear underride protections,” said John Lannen, Executive Director of the TSC. “The improved underride guards are engineered to prevent underride crashes at higher impact speeds and various overlap percentages. J.B. Hunt is one of the first companies to adopt this new protection for its trucks. Implementing stronger rear guards to reduce truck crash injuries and deaths will serve as a leading example for the industry.”

“Additionally, Woodruff’s early development of the use of real-time telematics supervision of driving behaviors and enhanced drug testing procedures has promoted safe driving and established him as an industry safety leader. During his tenure, the company has seen reductions in all types of collisions, and their post-accident positive drug tests between 2008 and 2014 were effectively zero percent.” Lannen continued, “I applaud Woodruff and his team for their tireless efforts to eliminate all crashes involving J.B. Hunt drivers and equipment.”

The Truck Safety Coalition also announced that Reggie Dupre, CEO of Dupre Logistics, LLC, and Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO of Maverick USA Inc. will receive the Truck Safety Leadership Award at a later date.

“Steve Williams has initiated and supported numerous efforts to make the industry safer for truck drivers and the public sharing the road with large trucks. As founder and president of the Trucking Alliance, he has advocated for electronic logging devices and opposed increases to truck size and weight,” Dawn King, President of TSC, stated. “In addition, he has implemented crash-reducing technologies on his company’s trucks such as: electronic stability control since 2004, collision mitigation systems since 2008, and lane departure warning systems with forward-looking cameras since 2013. Under his leadership, and with a focus on safety, Maverick experiences significantly lower driver and vehicle out-of-service rates compared to the national averages.”

Jane Mathis, Vice President of TSC, remarked, “Mr. Dupre has promoted and oversees a safety culture that strives for best practices rather than simply following basic regulations, which he views as minimum standards. This is demonstrated by his implementation of training programs for drivers, a fatigue management plan that includes pay-by-the-hour for many of his drivers, and equipping their fleet with common sense safety technologies, which has helped the company experience much lower driver and vehicle out-of-service rates compared to industry averages. We also commend Mr. Dupre for his involvement in the Trucking Alliance, which supports an increase for the minimum insurance required by motor carriers, and recently announced its opposition to efforts going on right now in the United States Senate to rollback federal hours of service rules for truck drivers. As a leader in the trucking industry, his opposition is critical. Truck driver fatigue is a major problem in the trucking industry and proposed changes included in the current transportation spending bill coming up next week in the Senate will make our roads and highways more dangerous for the public and truck drivers.”

The Truck Safety Coalition is made up of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT). The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

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One dead and Two in Critical Conditions after a Truck Crash in Wildwood, FL

On April 16, 2016, at approximately 5:40 a.m., a man, identified as Clayton Tripp, 84, was driving a Chevy Malibu westbound on freeway SR44 when he collided with a semi-truck trailer truck and his car was wedged under the truck.

The truck driver was on eastbound SR44 when he was making a U-turn to travel westbound towards interstate 75. He was not injured and was cited for violation of right-of-way.

Mr. Tripp and his passengers, his wife, Janice Tripp, 85, and his daughter, Dianne Tripp, 58, were all seriously injured. One person was airlifted to Ocala Regional Medical Center and the other two were taken in an ambulance. Clayton Tripp died a few days later from his injuries.

Trucks with weak underride guards, or none at all, offer little to no protection for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who can possibly crash into the sides or rear of a truck and trailer. Rear underride guards are required on many trucks and trailers, but the standard is antiquated and ineffective in preventing underride crashes from becoming injurious or fatal. Overall, more than 4,000 people are killed injury statistic should be here as well in truck crashes every year in the United States.

To find more information please visit the website: www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org. 

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Truck Underride Roundtable

When: Thursday, May 5, 2016 (9:00 AM to 3:00 PM)

Where: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, VA

Please join us as researchers, government officials and industry leaders gather to discuss truck underride crashes and how to reduce the risks for passenger vehicle occupants. We will explore the scope of the problem and how regulation and voluntary action can help address it. In a crash test, IIHS researchers will demonstrate how underride protection has already improved. The full agenda and additional details will follow in the coming weeks.

Please RSVP to Chamelle Matthew at cmatthew@iihs.org or 703.247.1530

HOTEL INFORMATION

Rooms have been reserved for the night of May 4, 2016, at these Charlottesville hotels:

Omni – IIHS room rate:  $199

Cut-off date to make reservation:  Sunday, March 20, 2016;

located at 212 Ridge McIntire Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Hyatt Place – IIHS room rate: $109

Cut-off date to make reservation:  Wednesday, April 20, 2016;

located at 2100 Bond Street, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22901.

The roundtable is being organized and sponsored by

IIHS, the Truck Safety Coalition and Annaleah & Mary for Truck Safety

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J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Orders 4,000 Trailers with New Rear Impact Guard Design

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., (NASDAQ:JBHT) one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America, announced today that it recently ordered 4,000 Wabash National DuraPlate® dry van trailers that include the new RIG-16 Rear Underride Guard System. This new rear impact guard is engineered to prevent underride in multiple offset, or overlap, impact scenarios. The guard reduces the risk of injury or death for individuals involved in an accident with the rear of a trailer.

“At J.B. Hunt, we value safety above all else,” said John Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer of J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. “We applaud Wabash National’s leadership and advancements in rear impact protection, and we’re proud to be the first fleet to specify the new rear impact guard design.”

The rear impact guard is made of advanced, high-strength steel. It includes two additional vertical posts and a longer, reinforced bumper tube. This design will better absorb the impact should any part of the bumper become engaged in a collision. Additionally, the guard is formulated to resist corrosion.

The Truck Safety Coalition commends companies that take a proactive approach to promoting safety through smart purchasing decisions. Truck Safety Coalition volunteer and underride advocate Nancy Mueleners said, “I am glad that J.B. Hunt is equipping their trailers with an improved rear guard. Introductions of rear guards using new engineering approaches are a much-needed safety improvement that will prevent injuries and save lives.”

Production of units specifically for J.B. Hunt began in January. Wabash National formally unveiled this new technology at the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee last month.

About J.B. Hunt
J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 Company, focuses on providing safe and reliable transportation services to a diverse group of customers throughout the contiguous United States, Canada and Mexico. Utilizing an integrated, multimodal approach, the company provides capacity-oriented solutions centered on delivering customer value and industry-leading service. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. stock trades on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol JBHT and is a component of the Dow Jones Transportation Average. J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of JBHT. For more information, visit www.jbhunt.com.

Link to Article: http://www.reuters.com/article/ar-jb-hunt-transport-idUSnBw255195a+100+BSW20160325

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From the Truck Safety Coalition… Wabash Introducing Rear Impact Guard That Far Exceeds U.S. Safety Standard

Wabash National Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial trucking equipment, announced that it will be introducing a new rear impact guard for trailers. As TSC noted in our comments on NHTSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to address underride protection in light vehicle crashes into the rear of trailers and semitrailers, this is just one example of available technology that highlights how woefully inadequate the agency’s safety standards are for trucking. Currently, NHTSA is proposing to enhance the U.S. standard by adopting the Canadian standard for rear underride guards and protections. While we welcome improvements to safety, we also noted that NHTSA’s NPRM would be a meaningless move and a missed opportunity to actually advance truck safety. Not only did the agency determine that 93 percent of new trailers meet or exceed the proposed Canadian standard, but as Wabash notes in this article, it has been producing rear impact guards that exceed the Canadian standard since 2007. TSC appreciates the Wabash improved guards and we will continue to educate the public about the dangers of underride crashes, like passenger compartment intrusion (PCI), as well as how improved underride guards and protections can prevent PCI at higher speed and/or overlap crashes between light vehicles and trailers.

Link: http://trailer-bodybuilders.com/trailers/wabash-national-introducing-new-rear-impact-guard

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

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Rulemaking to Improve Rear Impact Guards and Protections

This NPRM proposes to upgrade Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 223, “Rear impact guards,” and FMVSS No. 224, “Rear impact protection,” which together address rear underride protection in crashes into trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is proposing to adopt requirements of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) for underride guards (CMVSS No. 223, “Rear impact guards,”) that became effective in 2007. The CMVSS No. 223 requirements are intended to provide rear impact guards with sufficient strength and energy absorption capability to protect occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars impacting the rear of trailers at 56 km/h (35 mph). As the current requirements in FMVSS Nos. 223 and 224 were developed with the intent of providing underride crash protection to occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars in impacts up to 48 km/h (30 mph) into the rear of trailers, increasing the robustness of the trailer/guard design such that it will be able to withstand crash velocities up to 56 km/h (35 mph) represents a substantial increase in the stringency of FMVSS Nos. 223 and 224.

This NPRM also proposes to adopt Transport Canada’s definition of “rear extremity” to define where on a trailer aerodynamic fairings are to be located to avoid posing a safety hazard in rear underride crashes.

Rear underride crashes are those in which the front end of a vehicle impacts the rear of a generally larger vehicle, and slides under the rear-impacted vehicle. Underride may occur to some extent in collisions in which a small passenger vehicle crashes into the rear end of a large trailer or semi-trailer because the bed and chassis of the impacted vehicle is higher than the hood of the passenger vehicle. In excessive underride crashes, there is “passenger compartment intrusion” (PCI) as the passenger vehicle underrides so far that the rear end of the struck vehicle collides with and enters the passenger compartment of the striking passenger vehicle. PCI can result in severe injuries and fatalities to occupants contacting the rear end of the struck vehicle. An underride guard prevents PCI when it engages the striking end of the smaller vehicle and stops the vehicle from sliding too far under the struck vehicle’s bed and chassis.

The occupant crash protection features built into today’s passenger vehicles are able to provide high levels of occupant protection in 56 km/h (35 mph) frontal crashes. (1) If guards were made stronger to remain in place and prevent PCI in crashes of severities of up to 56 km/h (35 mph), the impacting vehicle’s occupant protection technologies could absorb enough of the crash forces resulting from the impact to significantly reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury to the occupants of the colliding vehicle.

Link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA_FRDOC_0001-1548

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Truck Safety Advocates in the News

Two of our volunteers are now featured in two recent articles published by Bloomberg News. In these articles, Marianne Karth and Ed Slattery, speak out about their personal experiences on living after a tragedy.

After Marianne lost two of her daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, in a truck crash last year, she turned her pain into advocacy. Marianne started a petition directed at Secretary Foxx that accrued over 11,000 signatures. The petition urges the Department of Transportation Secretary to address the truck safety issues that could have helped prevent the truck crash that killed her daughters. In the petition, Marianne asks him to (1) raise the minimum levels of insurance required for truck drivers, (2) decrease driver fatigue and monitor their hours on the road with Electronic Logging Devices, and (3) take needed steps to improve underride guards.

Karth turned to Facebook, created her own website and sent more than 11,000 petitions to pressure U.S. regulators, including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a bid to force safer trucking practices and equipment.

Speaking about her advocacy work, Marianne told Bloomberg News,

If there’s anything I can do to help prevent some other family from having to go through the same thing, then it’s worth it.

Ed’s wife, Susan, was killed and son, Matthew, was permanently injured in a truck crash. According to the article,

Matthew is making slow and steady progress, yet will always need care.

The Truck driver responsible for the crash has since lost his job and was sentenced to prison, after admitting to falling asleep while driving. Much of Ed’s story involves conflict with the driver, and as the article states,

Their combined experiences add up to a tale of loss, forgiveness and denial that is still evolving.

At the heart of this story, however, is Ed’s relationship with his son. Speaking about Matthew, Ed tells Bloomberg News,

I love him so much it hurts.

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Auto safety is Not Alone: Truck safety Also Suffers from NHTSA’s “Tiny” Budget and Workforce

In response to reports released that show how regulators failed to identify an ignition defect in millions of G.M. cars that has been linked to at least 19 deaths, The New York Times published an editorial discussing how Congress needs to strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), the federal agency responsible for investigating auto defects.The editorial points to a lack of funding from Congress as a reason for the agency’s failure to identify this defect.

Truck safety also suffers from NHTSA’s small budget and staff. We are overdue on rulemaking for rear underride guards, side and front guards, speed governors, forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems and electronic stability control technology. Each year that these rules are not released results in serious injuries and loss of lives.

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Truck Safety Advocates Step Closer to Goal of Advancing Underride Protection

Contact: Beth Weaver

301.814.4088,/beth_weaver@verizon.net

TRUCK SAFETY ADVOCATES STEP CLOSER TO GOAL OF ADVANCING UNDERRIDE PROTECTION 

NHTSA Issues a Grant of Petition for Rulemaking to Improve the Safety of Rear Impact Guards on Trailers and Single-Unit Trucks – Evaluation of Side and Front Underride Guards Continues

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 10, 2014)—Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a grant of petition for rulemaking to evaluate options for increasing the safety of rear impact guards, or underride guards, on trailers and single-unit trucks. Underride guards are steel bars installed onto the back of truck trailers in order to help prevent passenger vehicles from sliding underneath a truck in the event of a crash. Truck safety advocates have long advocated for an improvement to the rear underride guard standard, as well as requirement for side and front guard protection systems. NHTSA’s decision to begin rulemaking is a victory for truck safety advocates who have been working toward improving the safety of underride guards for decades.

Marianne Karth, a Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) Volunteer, after losing her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary one year ago in an underride truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son, said, “It was a bittersweet moment as I realized full well that these were needed changes that we had advocated for—because we lost AnnaLeah and Mary—and which we hope will save other lives but will never bring them back to us.”

The Karth family’s “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety” petition gained more than 11,000 supporters seeking to improve underride guard protections, as well as raise minimum insurance level requirements and expedite a final rule for electronic logging devices (ELDs). Marianne and her family members delivered the petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation in May 2014, and are named, along with TSC, in today’s Federal Notice for underride guards. Karth continued, “We are forever grateful to everyone that signed on to the petition, as well as the other TSC volunteers who have been working on this issue throughout the years.”

Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), TSC North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator, and Member, FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) reacted to the notice, “Having advocated for underride protection improvements for over thirty years, I am so grateful that the decision has finally been made to start rulemaking to consider improving the rear guard standard and to evaluate side and front guard protection requirements. Underride crashes have always been particularly devastating to car passengers, and are now even more so as efforts to raise fuel efficiency produce smaller cars, lower to the ground.”

Tierney, a recipient of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) 2014 Highway Safety Hero Award, and whose advocacy began after losing her father, James Mooney, in an underride crash in North Carolina said, “Simple, common sense changes in underride guard requirements, to make them more energy absorbing and lower to the ground, will help to keep our families whole and prevent catastrophic injuries.”

During 2011, NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 19 percent of the fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles, and that large truck side impacts comprised 15 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles. NHTSA plans on issuing two separate notices for underride guards. One is an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on single-unit trucks and the other is a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on trailers and semitrailers.

Roy Crawford, TSC Kentucky Volunteer Coordinator, after his son Guy was killed in an underride crash with a single unit truck twenty years ago said, “As a board certified forensic engineer and a father who lost a son in a underride crash, I have a full understanding of the physical and emotional outcomes from these crashes, and both are completely devastating. I am grateful that NHTSA will move forward to improve underride protections, and I urge them to act expediently to proceed through rulemaking to implementation. Our families’ lives depend on it.”

Nancy Meuleners, TSC Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator, also a recipient of Advocates 2014 Highway Safety Hero Award for nearly 25 years of advocacy after surviving an underride crash said, “I am fortunate to be alive, but it has come at an unnecessary and significant cost. The crash that nearly decapitated me has left me permanently disfigured. After 40 surgeries, I will need more just to maintain my progress.” Meuleners added, “NHTSA has the power to greatly reduce the needless loss and suffering that result from underride crashes, and I hope that they will act quickly to do so.”

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