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



Good morning Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Norton and Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Jennifer Tierney and I am a board member of the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation as well as one of millions of Americans whose loved one was killed in a truck crash. I traveled to be here today from my home town of Kernersville, North Carolina, and am pleased to see my fellow North Carolinians on this Subcommittee, Congressmen Meadows (R-NC-11) and Rouzer (R-NC-7). My motivation to be testifying before you comes from the loss of my daddy, James Mooney, and the goal of preventing other families from suffering preventable truck crash fatalities and injuries. My dad was killed in a horrific truck crash on a dark back country road when he crashed into the side of a truck trailer blocking the roadway. The truck, which was in a jackknife position, did not have working lights, reflective tape or underride guards. Since that time nearly 35 years ago, I have served as a volunteer for CRASH which has teamed up with Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) to form the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), whom I am here representing. TSC coordinates thousands of volunteers across the nation who are truck crash survivors as well as families and friends of truck crash victims. Our volunteer network educates the public and lawmakers about data-driven policies to improve truck safety.

Truck Safety is Declining at an Alarming Rate

Unfortunately, I do not have good news to share with you today regarding the status of truck safety on our Nation’s roadways. Truck crashes, deaths and injuries have been dramatically rising in recent years. Since 2009, annual truck crash fatalities have increased by 28 percent. In 2016, 4,317 people were killed in truck crashes, and early data for 2017 indicates truck crash fatalities are up another 10 percent. During that same time, truck crashes and resulting injuries have also risen to 475,000, and 145,000 respectively. Despite these worsening trends, key safety initiatives that could both mitigate and prevent truck crashes continue to languish or even worse — have been withdrawn.

We cannot accept these intolerable figures as the cost of doing business or allow ourselves to fall into complacency when we have available countermeasures to curb this needless carnage. The reality is that the annual truck crash fatality toll amounts to over two dozen commercial airplane crashes each year. Yet, our nation responds to truck crash fatalities and airplane crash fatalities in starkly different ways. Just last month, we tragically experienced the first death in a commercial airline incident in nine years. Newspapers and telecasts covered it, the National Safety Transportation Board sent a team to investigate it, and there was palpable public interest in preventing it from occurring again. Meanwhile, that same day, roughly 1,300 truck crashes occurred, killing 12 people and injuring 400 more (figures based on averages). There was no national coverage, no federal investigation, and no public outcry.

The good news that I do have to share with you is that we have proven solutions that can reduce crashes, prevent injuries, and most importantly, save lives. My comments will focus on the following policies that can improve truck safety and the appropriate steps to implementing and enforcing them.

• Finalize Rulemakings:
o Automatic Emergency Braking
o Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

• Reinstate Rulemakings:
o Increasing Minimum Insurance Levels
o Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

• Modify Rules:
o Entry Level Driver Training

• Promulgate Rulemakings:
o Strengthen Rear Underride Guards
o Require Side Underride Guards
o Study Front Underride Guards

• Fully Implement Final Rules:
o Electronic Logging Devices
o Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

• Reject Policies:
o Increase Truck Size
o Increase Truck Weight
o Limit Shipper and Broker Liability

Finalize Rulemakings:

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a proven technology that leading trucking companies and other countries have been using for years 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 as well as other safety advocates filed a petition to initiate a rulemaking that would mandate automatic emergency braking, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted in October of 2015. Since then, the agency has taken no further regulatory action. This should change immediately, and I urge Members to require NHTSA to take immediate action for several reasons.

The 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, 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. Likewise, 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.

Yet, data from NHTSA indicates truck crashes continue to increase thus unsafe companies are getting in more crashes at a faster rate than these companies are reducing their collisions. From 2009 to 2016, the number of trucks involved in crashes in which a truck rear-ended a passenger vehicle went up by 82 percent. This shows that while voluntarily adoption is admirable, it is not enough.

In 2012, the European Union (EU) mandated all new trucks to be equipped with AEB beginning in 2015. This was just one more step towards safety that the U.S. can and should take to achieve similar truck safety improvements to the EU. In 2009, the EU experienced roughly 1,600 more annual fatalities resulting from large truck crashes than the U.S., but by 2015, the EU saw approximately 200 fewer people dying in these types of crashes on their roads. Clearly, policymakers are doing something right in the EU to experience such drastic reductions in truck crash deaths.

In addition to experiencing far greater reductions in truck crash fatalities compared to the U.S., the EU may have also benefitted from this technology in mitigating the damage of a terrorist act. Some newspapers reported that automatic emergency braking was engaged during the Berlin truck attack, thus limiting the number of people who could have been killed and injured. Considering the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) put out an advisory to rental truck companies concerning a rise in vehicle-ramming attacks, I urge this Subcommittee to also consider the national security benefits requiring this technology can provide.

Moreover, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has voiced support for this technology. The ATA stated that they “strongly recommend that all vehicles (light and heavy) be equipped with forward collision warning and mitigation braking technology.” Given the data as well as industry support, we urge this Subcommittee to take action to require all new trucks are equipped with AEB.

Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

A final rule requiring the use of speed limiting technology set at 65 mph or lower should apply to all large trucks. There is a plethora of evidence confirming the effectiveness of speed limiters in improving safety. A recent study out of Ontario found that the incidence of heavy trucks speeding in a crash dropped 73 percent following implementation of the Providence’s speed limiter mandate. Moreover, the Ontario study directly debunked the claim that speed differentials would lead to an increase in overall crashes involving big rigs, finding no evidence of such an increase. In addition to the promising data out of Canada, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) own road-based study found that heavy trucks not using their speed limiters were in twice the rate of highway-speed crashes as those using them.

Moreover, this life-saving technology has been a standard component in most trucks’ engine control modules since the 1990s because so many other countries already mandate their use on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). As a result, most trucks would not require a retrofit but would instead simply need to have their speed limiter set. It should also be noted that numerous American companies use speed limiters voluntarily because it improves their profitability, operational efficiency, and safety. Additionally, speed governed trucks save motor carriers significant money on fuel, and on maintenance costs for tires and brakes, which last longer by limiting excessive speeding that can exacerbate normal wear and tear.

Considering the studies highlighting the benefits and the successful adoption by safety-conscious companies, we urge this Subcommittee to take action to require speed limiter use by all trucks, existing and new.

Reintroduce Rulemakings:

Increasing the Minimum Level of Insurance

The minimum level of insurance of $750,000 has not been increased in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. The fact of the matter is that nothing costs the same today as it did back in 1980, which is why it is absurd that the minimum level of insurance required by trucks per incident has not been increased since then. It has not been adjusted for inflation or, more appropriately, for medical cost inflation. The results of these decades of inaction are devastating. Families must face the financial impact of under-insured truckers along with the emotional and physical destruction that is wrought by their crashes.

Moreover, 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. Yet, these amounts are currently so inadequate that insurers fail to apply appropriate scrutiny, which allows chameleon carriers to enter the market, with no underwriting, and simply close down and reincorporate under a new name following a catastrophic crash. For the minimum insurance level to serve as a significant incentive for carriers to operate safely as Congress intended, it must be updated to reflect the current realities of the industry. Since 1980, truck weight limits have increased significantly as have speed limits for trucks; the combination of these two changes means that crash severity has increased.

Unfortunately, this issue not only impacts survivors and families of truck crash victims, it affects all taxpayers. Insurance is supposed to address the actual damages caused. When there is insufficient compensation, families are forced to declare bankruptcy or rely on government programs after being financially drained. The costs of healthcare, property, and lost income for all parties involved in a truck crash can greatly exceed $750,000 per event, and all of these costs are much higher today than they were in 1980. The unpaid costs are then passed on to taxpayers. In other words, maintaining the grossly inadequate minimum privatizes profits while socializing the costs of underinsured trucking.

We urge this Subcommittee to require the FMCSA to reinstate its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to increase the minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers. As an alternative, members of the Subcommittee can direct the Secretary of Transportation to take immediate action to index the level to inflation, which can be accomplished without a rulemaking.

Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

Truck driver fatigue and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are major, well-known problems in the industry. OSA is a scientifically proven sleep disorder that causes a brief interruption of breathing during sleep. People with OSA are at risk of becoming fatigued as their body and brain are deprived of oxygen and the restorative effects of sleep. Undiagnosed, this chronic disorder can be debilitating to a driver’s health and make him or her a danger to others on the road. It affects approximately five percent of the general population, and up to 50 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers. In fact, truck drivers who fail adhere to treatment for OSA are five times more likely to get involved in a crash than a truck driver who is on treatment.

We urge the Subcommittee to require the FMCSA to reinstate the rulemaking requiring OSA screening.

Modify Rules:

Entry Level Driver Training

Truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations, according to the Department of Labor. Currently there is no minimum requirement for behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours; therefore, the agency is not be able to ensure that commercial driver license (CDL) applicants have had actual time behind-the-wheel to learn safe operations of a truck. Requiring a set number of hours to ensure that a licensee is sufficiently educated in his or her profession is common for far less deadly and injurious jobs, such as barbers and real estate agents. Other transportation-related professions, like commercial pilots, are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to complete more than 250 hours of flight time – their version of “BTW” training.

We urge this Subcommittee to require the FMCSA to modify the Entry-Level Driver Training rule to include a minimum BTW training requirement.

Promulgate Rulemakings:

Rear and Side Underride Guards

Truck underride crashes can be catastrophic because the car goes under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment safety features; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs. A requirement for all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear and side underride guards would protect car occupants from underride crashes.

We are incredibly grateful to Subcommittee Member Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) for introducing the Stop Underrides Act (H.R. 4622) and to the other Representatives on the Subcommittee who are cosponsors. We are similarly thankful to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) for introducing the Senate version, S. 2219. This lifesaving legislation will strengthen rear underride guards, mandate side underride guards, and require proper maintenance of these guards. The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers call on all Members of Congress to join this bipartisan effort to reduce the unnecessary deaths and injuries that occur because of truck underride collisions.

The safety benefits of rear underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, seven of the eight leading trailer manufacturers have developed rear underride guards that qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) ToughGuard rating, which greatly exceeds the proposed federal standard by preventing underride crashes at 100, 50, and 30 percent overlaps at 35 mph.

The NTSB has continually issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards and for side underride protection systems. They identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety. Additionally, an advisory committee on Police Accident Reports (PAR) also found that most states did not have a box on their PAR in which to indicate if underride occurred. Absent applicable and available data, policy-makers may fail to identify the true scope of truck underride collisions.

NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 22 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2016. IIHS crash tests demonstrated that the rear underride guards mandated for trailers by NHTSA in 1998 performed poorly, and that there are available underride guards that far exceed the proposed force requirement by up to 70 percent.

NHTSA has also reported that large truck side impacts — like the one that killed my dad — comprised 18 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2016. One reason why collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers are hazardous is that there is a large area of the trailer where underride may occur during these collisions. In addition, bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to side underride interactions because of their size and the lack of protection. After ten years of pushing, I was finally able to secure a requirement that reflective tape be placed on tractor-trailers to make them more visible, especially at night. However, side underride guards that can prevent and mitigate these collisions are commercially available and should be standard equipment.

Unfortunately, since granting petitions for rulemaking back in 2014, NHTSA has taken no action, aside from issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for rear underride guards on trailers and the ANPRM for rear guards for single unit trucks. Additionally, the agency has taken no action to evaluate side underride guards. We urge all Subcommittee members to join us in supporting the Stop Underrides Act to address these preventable tragedies.

Fully Implement Final Rules

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)
An electronic logging device (ELD) is a critical safety technological device to ensure compliance of the federal hours of service (HOS) rules. In 2018, the requirement that all trucks be equipped with ELDs took effect. Unfortunately, some special interests are arguing that ELDs are cost prohibitive. However, the reality is that they are less expensive than replacing a few truck tires. These attempts to delay, weaken, or reverse the ELD rule should be swiftly and soundly rejected. Similarly, efforts to allow exemptions for specific industries or special interests will adversely affect safety in the short-term and long-term.

Updating the methodology by which HOS are recorded is long overdue. ELD technology will reduce the ability of bad actors to skirt federal regulations by modernizing the practice of logging hours. This rule will also protect truck drivers from being coerced to exceed the hours they are allowed to operate because ELDs automatically record driving time, and therefore truck drivers cannot circumvent compliance by simply writing down false hours. It is important to note that this regulation makes no changes to the existing HOS rules.

Additionally, the ELD mandate will enhance law enforcement officers’ capacity to enforce HOS and expedite the process of reviewing a truck driver’s logbook. This potential benefit of the ELD rulemaking would be blunted, however, if the agency allows exemptions as it would create confusion for law enforcement officers. The shift from paperwork to electronic logging will save not only time, but also it will produce a benefit or more than $1 billion, according to the FMCSA.

After working for more than two decades to produce a final rule that requires large trucks to be equipped with ELDs, the Truck Safety Coalition opposes any further delay or exemptions to the mandate. There has been ample time for members of the industry to transition from paper logbooks to electronic logging devices. Furthermore, the ELD final rule will save an estimated 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from large truck crashes each year. We cannot fathom why anyone would direct an agency, whose mission is to promote safety, to consider a five-year delay that would ultimately result in an estimated 130 fatalities and 2,810 injuries.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule will greatly enhance safety on our roads as employers will be able to access information regarding the testing history of CMV drivers applying for jobs and identify drivers who have previously failed alcohol and drug tests.

CMV drivers who have violated drug and alcohol testing are currently a major risk to everyone with whom they share the road. Under the soon-to-be-replaced system of self-reporting, many employers were unable to access the necessary information to avoid hiring problem drivers. The establishment of this new drug and alcohol clearinghouse that requires employers to check current and prospective employees will be a significant step forward for safety.

All too often, a history of repeated drug and alcohol violations is not discovered until a catastrophic crash occurs and a comprehensive investigation ensues. The FMCSA issued a final rule, which will take effect in 2020, and we urge all Subcommittee members to ensure this rule is fully implemented so this will no longer be the case.

Reject Policies

During a time when truck safety is in serious decline, increasing truck size and weight or limiting shipper and broker liability would be steps in the wrong direction.

Truck Size Increase

Increasing the length of double tractor-trailers by five feet per trailer would result in a configuration that is approximately the size of an 8-story building. These massive configurations would be more difficult to operate. For example, double 33s require an additional 22 feet to stop compared to existing twin-trailer configurations. Making it more challenging to brake in a vehicle that requires the length of a football field to stop when traveling 60 mph will not help address the 45 percent increase in truck occupant fatalities. If anything, it may cause that number to rise even more precipitously.

Proponents of the Double 33 proposal have been misleading lawmakers about the costs and consequences of longer tandem trailers. As with past size and weight increases — coupled with less intermodal efficiencies and increases in freight — we would likely start to see a greater number of larger trucks on our roads. Our roads and bridges will also suffer from longer and heavier trucks because these bigger trucks will result in greater wear and tear on our already-crumbling infrastructure.

Truck Weight Increase

Those lobbying for pilot programs, state/industry exemptions, or nationwide increases to permit heavier trucks are likewise disseminating questionable claims about how a weight increase will improve safety, reduce congestion, or diminish wear and tear on our roads and bridges. Pilot programs are a piecemeal approach that makes enforcement and compliance more difficult while compelling states with reasonable truck size and weight limits to succumb to pressure for higher weights and longer trucks. The addition of an extra axle will do nothing to mitigate the damage to bridges resulting from the operation of heavier trucks. Moreover, in the event a heavier truck is involved in a crash, the crash severity could be much greater and inflict more damage to the infrastructure.

Shipper Broker Liability

Members should reject all legislative attempts “to enhance interstate commerce by creating a national hiring standard for motor carriers, and for other purposes.” Despite sounding pro-safety, this deceptive and dangerous policy will neither “enhance interstate commerce,” nor truly “[create] a national hiring standard.” In actuality, this policy is a Trojan horse: it disguises the indemnification of shippers and brokers as the creation of a national safety standard. Yet, these “standards” offered contain no safety performance data and unfairly restrict other parties who may have been adversely impacted in a truck crash.

The entire supply chain must be accountable to accomplish safety. The required actions identified by this proposal set a standard for shippers and brokers at such a very low threshold that it would actually serve to reduce safety accountability. The three actions required are so easily attained that many high-risk and chameleon carriers would qualify under this set of criteria.

Per language that has been introduced as an amendment to H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization bill, an entity will “be deemed to have made the selection of the motor carrier in a reasonable and prudent manner” if they ensure that the carrier is:
1. registered with and authorized by FMCSA to operate as a motor carrier or household goods motor carrier, if applicable;
2. has the minimum insurance coverage required by Federal regulation; and,
3. does not have an unsatisfactory rating under the current rating or any future safety fitness determination rule.

Policymakers cannot accept bare minimum compliance as a standard of safety lest they intend to promote a race to the bottom. None of the criteria specified above reflect on the current safety performance of a carrier. Consequently, this will lead to low-cost, unsafe carriers being selected, exposing the public to physical and financial risk. It is in everyone’s best interest for the safest companies to earn the business.

A carrier or driver that has been given a satisfactory rating at one point in time or has not yet been prohibited from operating cannot be assumed to be currently upholding safe operating practices, especially considering that many ratings are more than 10 years old. Based on the amendment’s language, however, a shipper or broker could ignore a carrier’s recent performance based data during the selection process so long as that carrier does not have an unsatisfactory rating.


It has become clear that the U.S. Department of Transportation, and even some Members of this Congress have no intention of producing meaningful mandates that will “solve current problems,” and every intention of removing regulations for the sake of removing regulations.

As it pertains to the Executive branch, the DOT has not offered a single solution to address the rising number of truck crashes or the fact that driving a truck is constantly one of the deadliest jobs in America. At the same time, this Administration has already withdrawn two rulemakings and delayed four rulemakings – all of which could have improved truck safety.

Concerning Congress, actions thus far belie any sense of urgency to improve truck safety. Bills to allow teenage truck drivers, who have been proven less safe than more experienced drivers, to operate across state lines are this body’s “best” response to a perceived driver shortage rather than reforming entry-level driver training or moving away from a pay-per-mile structure. Anecdotes about the effects of ELDs have been given the same stock as data collected by large carriers over several years. Technologies that have been proven through extensive use to improve operational safety of a truck are continually delayed in the rulemaking process, while lawmakers invite lobbyists to pen themselves provisions permitting bigger, more difficult to operate trucks into must-pass spending bills.

Moving forward, I am hopeful members of the Subcommittee will prioritize safety and remember that the death and injury figures are not merely statistics but people, like my daddy, who were needlessly killed or hurt in a truck crash.

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

Wall Street Journal: Longer, Heavier Trucks Are a Serious Hazard

My own experience informs my serious concerns with making trucks even longer.

The public should urge their lawmakers to oppose efforts by FedEx and UPS to increase the national twin-trailer standard to 33 feet from 28 feet per trailer (Letters, Feb. 6). Granting this corporate giveaway will permit longer trucks on our roads, which will erode safety and adversely affect our nation’s infrastructure.

My own experience informs my serious concerns with making trucks even longer. In August 2010, my wife, Susan, was killed and my sons, Peter and Matthew (who is now permanently disabled), were injured in a crash after a truck driver operating a triple tractor-trailer fell asleep and crashed into the back of their vehicle.

Unfortunately, crashes in which a truck rear ends a passenger vehicle have skyrocketed, increasing 82% from 2009 to 2015, as calculated by the Truck Safety Coalition. Introducing trucks that require an additional 22 feet to brake will exacerbate this trend.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, any reduction in truck-vehicle miles traveled would be wiped out within one year by increases and shifts in freight transportation. The study also found that permitting double 33s would incur a one-time cost of $1.1 billion to strengthen and replace more than 2,000 bridges. This finding dispels the claim that the “trucking industry foots the bill.”

Instead of demanding longer trucks that require a greater distance to stop, companies should look to technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, speed limiters and underride protections to enhance safety, protect our infrastructure and improve their bottom lines.

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, Md.


Published: Feb. 12, 2018 3:35 p.m. ET


Group Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee to Oppose Truck Size and Weight Increases

June 12, 2017

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman  

The Honorable David Price, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies  Committee on Appropriations    

U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515      

Dear Chairman Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Price:

As the Subcommittee prepares for Thursday’s hearing to review the FY 2018 budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), our broad and diverse coalition urges you to reject any provisions that would increase federal truck size and weight limits including the creation of any “pilot programs” or special interest exemptions to evade current limits. 

Current trends show that truck crashes are too frequent and too often are fatal.  In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks.  According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), this is an increase of more than 4 percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009.  Furthermore, this is the highest fatality number, and the first time truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000, since 2008.  Truck crash injuries are also rising significantly.  In 2015, 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks.  This is the highest number of injuries since 2004, and there has been a 57 percent increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes since 2009. The annual number of deaths and injuries is completely unacceptable and would not be tolerated in any other mode of transportation.

In addition to this massive death and injury toll, our nation’s roads continue to receive a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.  The report revealed that one of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and that there is a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs. Additionally, one in eleven of the nation’s 615,000 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory were structurally deficient.  

Any proposals that would allow heavier and longer trucks on our nation’s roads and bridges will further endanger the safety of motorists, and inflict even more damage and destruction to our infrastructure and should be rejected. 

In fact, attempts to increase truck size and weight limits were defeated during the last Congressional session by both the Senate and the House in strong bipartisan votes.  In addition to documented safety and infrastructure problems, the American public consistently and overwhelmingly rejects bigger and heavier trucks in countless opinion polls.   

Furthermore, Congress directed the U.S. DOT to conduct a Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study in the 2012 MAP-21 law (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. 112-141).  In April of last year, U.S. DOT transmitted the completed study to Congress and recommended that no changes be made to federal truck size and weight laws. 

Trucks heavier than 80,000 pounds have a greater number of brake violations, which are a major reason for out-of-service violations. Alarmingly, trucks with out-of-service violations are 362 percent more likely to be involved in a crash, according to a North Carolina study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Tractor-trailers moving at 60 mph are required to stop in 310 feet – the length of a football field – once the brakes are applied.  Actual stopping distances are often much longer due to driver response time before braking and the common problem that truck brakes are often not in top working condition.  In 2016, violations related to tires and/or brakes accounted for five of the top ten most common vehicle out-of-service violations.  Moreover, increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 10 percent increases bridge damage by 33 percent.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that the investment backlog for bridges, to address all cost-beneficial bridge needs, is $123.1 billion.  The U.S. would need to increase annual funding for bridges by 20 percent over current spending levels to eliminate the bridge backlog by 2032.

The study also found that introducing double 33 foot trailer trucks, known as “Double 33s,” would be projected to result in 2,478 bridges requiring strengthening or replacement at an estimated one-time cost of $1.1 billion. It is important to note that this figure does not account for the additional, subsequent maintenance costs which will result from longer, heavier trucks.  Moreover, double trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. They also require more stopping distance, take more time to pass, have bigger blind spots, cross into adjacent lanes and swing into opposing lanes on curves and when making right angle turns. Simply put, bigger trucks mean bigger safety problems. 

We strongly oppose any so-called “pilot program” to allow heavier trucks in a select number of states because it opens the flood gates to widespread disregard for well-researched and wellsupported national policies.  The piecemeal approach also makes enforcement and compliance more difficult, burdens states with reasonable truck weights to succumb to pressure for higher weights, and creates deadly and costly consequences for highway safety and infrastructure. 

Despite misleading claims to the contrary, research and experience shows that allowing bigger, heavier trucks will not result in fewer trucks. Since 1982, when Congress last increased the gross vehicle weight limit, truck registrations have increased 95 percent. The U.S. DOT study also addressed this assertion and found that any potential mileage efficiencies from use of heavier trucks would be offset in just one year. 

Annual truck crash fatalities are equivalent to a major airplane crash every other week of the year.  Any change overturning current truck size and weight laws will further strain and erode our crumbling infrastructure, present dire safety risks and disrupt efficient intermodal freight transportation.  It is critical that any proposals which would increase the size or weight of trucks be rejected, including pilot programs and measures to preempt state limits.  Thank you for your consideration of our position.

Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee 

Oppose Longer Trucks

Proposals to Allow Longer Trucks on Our Nation’s Roadways Will Jeopardize Safety, Further Damage Our Infrastructure, and Disregard Public Opinion on Truck Size

Thirty-three-foot double-trailer trucks are 10 feet longer than the existing double configurations they would replace and are 17 feet longer than the 53-foot single-trailer trucks on the road today. A mandate by Congress for these longer trucks would override the laws of most states. Moreover, public opinion polls show that the American public has consistently affirmed their overwhelming support for truck size limitations. A nationwide survey conducted by Harper Polling in January 2015 found that 76 percent of respondents oppose longer and heavier trucks. This reaffirmed findings from a public opinion poll conducted by Lake Research Partners in May 2013 that found 68 percent of Americans oppose heavier trucks and 88 percent of Americans do not want to pay higher taxes for the damage caused by heavier trucks.

Longer Trucks Will Be More Dangerous to Motorists, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists and Pedestrians

The annual cost to society from crashes involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) is estimated to be over $112 billion.
Nearly all of the large multi-trailer combination trucks, as well as single unit trucks, examined in the 2000 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study had worse roll stability,  and in some instances by wide margins, than the standard five-axle semitrailer combination loaded to 80,000 lbs.
A study conducted by the Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC) shows that double-trailer configurations have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.

Longer Trucks Compromise Operating Characteristics

As truck length increases, passing and merging become more difficult—increasing the odds of failure to pass.
Increasing 28-foot double-trailer trucks to 33-foot double-trailer trucks results in a 33 percent increase in low-speed off-tracking and a 22 feet longer stopping distance. This means greater hazards to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and motorists in their path, as well as more damage to infrastructure.

Longer Trucks Will Cause More Damage to Our Fragile Infrastructure

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $143 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis over the next 20 years to significantly improve conditions and performance.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation a grade of D+ on our infrastructure.  Our roads were graded D and bridges, C+.

Longer Trucks Will Result in Increased Costs to Tax Payers

Unintended Costs Will Result from Longer Trucks:
Highway hardware –  costs to assess guard rails, crash pads, rail crossings, etc. and the costs for replacement when assessment determines the hardware is insufficient;
Accessory infrastructure –  costs to assess bridge and roadway ratings and capacity, to produce and install signs and warnings, to make improvements to accommodate larger trucks, to repair pavement torsion caused by non-steering axles (also called tire scrubbing), and to maintain roadway and bridge infrastructure at increased rates of wear and damage;
Truck facilities – cost for improvements necessary to accommodate larger trucks, new or modified weight scales, new and modified parking and fuel facilities.
According to the 2007 Transportation for Tomorrow report, mandated by Congress, heavy trucks are underpaying their fair share for highway use. The report also found that user fee fairness could be achieved through weight-distance taxes and heavy trucks should pay an infrastructure damage fee. Moreover, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, which only contributes $1 billion annually to the Highway Trust Fund—had not been changed since the early 1980s.

Longer Doubles are Premised on “Junk Science” and Flawed Analysis Conducted by Industry-Funded Research

The Woodrooffe study, on which many of the safety and efficiency claims for double 33s are based, was produced under contract to Federal Express (FedEx) and ConWay. It contains three serious flaws:
It makes the spurious assumption that two trailers of different lengths (28 v 33 feet) would both be filled to equal weights despite carrying different volumes of freight;
It ignores the fact that 33 foot trailers would weigh more when empty than 28 foot trailers, which would decrease the calculated efficiency estimates on those portions of trips when operating below capacity or empty; and,
It miscalculates the comparative increase in payload (volume) of 33 foot trailers as compared to 28 foot trailers.

Both Law Enforcement Officers and Truck Drivers Consider Longer Trucks More Dangerous

In the MTIC study, 21 Officers were interviewed and 20 officers indicated “that longer and heavier trucks would be ‘more dangerous’ because the additional length and weight would add new factors to an already complicated chain of events.”
Likewise, surveyed truck drivers are consistent in their opinion that heavier and/or longer trucks impact safety. Eighty-eight percent believed that a higher use of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) would negatively impact highway safety.

Oppose Heavier Trucks

Proposals to allow 91,000 pound and heavier, overweight trucks on our nation’s roadways will jeopardize safety and further damage our infrastructure

Public opinion polls show the American public has consistently affirmed their overwhelming support for truck weight limitations, and firm opposition to holding taxpayers responsible for paying for infrastructure damage caused by heavier trucks. A survey conducted in April 2013 noted that a strong majority of Americans oppose efforts to change the law and allow heavier trucks on our roads and that this opposition spans almost every major demographic, geographic, and partisan group.

Heavier Trucks Will Be More Dangerous to Motorists, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Big rigs carrying loads close to the current Federal Limit (65,000 to 80,000 lbs.) are already twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as trucks carrying less than 50,000 lbs.

Heavier trucks will increase the rate of wear and amplify the severity of collisions occurring when brakes under-perform from lack of maintenance.

The Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study found that heavier trucks in three states have 47 to 400 percent higher crash rates. The report also found that heavier trucks have higher rates of brake violations compared to lighter trucks, which is a common reason for higher out-of-service violations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded in 2016 that a truck with any out-of-service violations is 362 percent more likely to be involved in a crash.

Heavier Trucks Will Cause More Damage to Our Failing Infrastructure

Overweight trucks disproportionately damage the already deteriorated roads and bridges. An 18,000 lb. truck axle creates over 3,000 times more damage to pavement than a passenger vehicle axle.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation a grade of D+ on our infrastructure.  Our roads were graded D and bridges, C+.

The U.S. has 614,387 bridges, almost four in 10 of which are 50 years or older. 56,007 (9.1%) of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, and on average there were 188 million trips across a structurally deficient bridge each day.

A mere 20 percent increase in weight for a heavy truck increases bridge damage by 33 percent.

Heavier Trucks Will Result in Increased Costs to Tax Payers

The annual cost to society from crashes involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) is estimated to be over $112 billion in 2014.[x]

The most recent study to look at federal government subsidies of heavy truck operations revealed that taxpayers contribute almost $2 billion every year.

The trucking industry underpays its roadway user fees and receives special interest subsidies, ensuring that they do not cover all the damages they inflict on roadway and bridge infrastructure, contributing to a chronic deficit. The FHWA reported that trucks weighing more than 80,000 lbs. only pay between 40 and 50 percent of the costs for which they are responsible

Heavier trucks will produce higher maintenance and replacements costs due to the reduced bridge life span resulting from increases to stress repetition and the rate of stress repetition. Adding a 6th axle will not mitigate increased wear and strain on bridges.

The projected one-time costs of bridges with posting issues (i.e. the need for strengthening or replacing a bridge) caused by raising truck weights to 91,000 pounds is $1.1 billion. This weight increase is expected to produce 4,845 bridges with posting issues.

The FHWA estimated the investment backlog for bridges is $123 billion.

Heavier Trucks Will Result in More Trucks, Not Less

Increases to truck size and weight will not decrease the number of trips, result in fewer miles traveled, or improve safety by reducing the number of trucks on the highways. The number of trucks and miles traveled on U.S. highways has consistently grown over the past few decades even after several increases in both the sizes and weights of large trucks.

A 2010 study on freight diversion concluded that increasing truck weights to 97,000 pounds would result in a net increase of nearly 8 million more trucks on our roads and bridges, a 56 percent increase.

Any So-Called “States Option” For Heavier Trucks is a De-Facto Nationwide Increase

Legislation to increase truck size and weight limits state-by-state is merely a back door attempt by trucking interests to come back to Congress in a few years and push for heavier truck weights nationwide.

The “state option” was tried once before and history reveals that it resulted in heavier trucks in every state.

In 1974, trucking interests went to Congress and lobbied for bigger trucks as a state option. Eight years later, in 1982, trucking interests came calling again and this time complained about several states not allowing 80,000 lbs. trucks. As a result, Congress preempted states and increased weights to 80,000 lbs. in every state.

Both Law Enforcement Officers and Truck Drivers Consider Heavier Trucks More Dangerous

In a survey conducted by the Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium, 20 of the 21 Officers who were interviewed indicated that longer and heavier trucks would be “more dangerous” because the additional length and weight would add “new factors to an already complicated chain of events.”

Likewise, surveyed truck drivers are consistent in their opinion that heavier and/or longer trucks impact safety. In fact, 90 percent of those surveyed believed that the increased use of 97,000-lb., six-axle trucks would negatively impact highway safety.

Truck Weight Fact Sheet – TSC 2017

Eno Transportation Weekly Guest Op-Ed: Don’t Let Safety Take a Back Seat to Special Interests

Deadly truck crashes happen every day on our roads and highways across the nation.

Unfortunately, this major public health and safety problem is worsening.

Since 2009, the number of truck crashes has shot up by 45 percent — resulting in a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries and a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities. In 2015 alone, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes and 116,000 more were injured.

Congress would not tolerate this death and injury toll if it were occurring in any other mode of transportation. Our nation’s leaders certainly should not be considering any weakening of current truck safety protections to accommodate a few select industry members calling for even longer, heavier trucks.

One particularly divisive issue is a major national policy change that would increase truck lengths by at least ten feet. A handful of large trucking companies and shippers are advocating for a configuration commonly called “Double 33s” – which are two 33-foot trailers towed in tandem. Though being billed by proponents as a “small tweak,” this would amount to trucks on the highways potentially topping 90 feet long, which is equivalent to the length of an eight-story office building on wheels. These trucks At a hearing this week before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, the President and CEO of FedEx Freight Corporation testified in support of Double 33s. The written testimony argued that this increase in truck size would result in fewer trucks on the road.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the history of our country, every past size and weight increase has resulted in more trucks on our roads. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study (DOT Study), any reduction in truck vehicle miles traveled would be wiped out within one year by increases and shifts in freight transportation. This change to national surface transportation policy would result in a major disruption in multi-modalism and diversion of freight from railroads that are often safer and more environmentally friendly.

The DOT Study’s technical reports also showed that a Double 33 is less safe to operate than the current configuration of Double 28s. These longer trucks require an additional 22 feet to stop, which will make collisions resulting from the truck striking another vehicle in the rear more likely and potentially more devastating.

Research also shows that double trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. Longer trucks take more time to pass, cross into adjacent lanes, interfere with traffic as well as swing into opposing lanes on curves and when making right-angle turns. These serious safety problems mean big trouble for those travelling alongside these huge trucks.

Supporters of Double 33s consistently cite dubious science, for which they footed the bill, which misstates and misrepresents the benefits of these longer configurations. False claims of Double 33s increasing safety and productivity are nothing more than a play for competitive advantage over the rest of the industry. Simply put, supporters of Double 33s are placing profits over people.

Consequently, there is a growing coalition of diverse voices opposed to increasing truck length. Families of truck crash victims and survivors, public health and safety organizations, truck drivers, law enforcement officials, first responders, short line and regional railroads, railway suppliers and contractors, and rail labor are united in staunch opposition to Double 33s.

Truck drivers and their representatives can speak firsthand to the difficulties of operating these massive rigs. Considering that the Department of Labor consistently ranks driving a truck as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in America, further imperiling their safety should be a non-starter. And, the public has spoken loud and clear in poll after poll that they oppose bigger trucks.

The aggressive push to mandate all states to allow longer, less safe trucks will impose significant hardship on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

Additionally, states have expressed serious concerns about being forced to accept Double 33s. Just last month, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which found that 20 percent of the nation’s highways had poor pavement conditions. Moreover, one in 11 of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $142 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis over the next 20 years to significantly improve conditions and performance. The aforementioned DOT Study recognized the adverse effects that Double 33s would have on our bridges, including a one-time cost of $1.1 billion to strengthen and replace more than 2,000 bridges.

This misguided policy proposal is nothing more than a corporate handout for a small segment of the trucking industry. It will endanger motorists and truck drivers, inflict more damage on our suffering infrastructure, preempt state laws throughout the nation, and it does nothing to improve freight efficiency. Lawmakers should be considering commonsense proposals to advance safety, not prioritizing the interests of a select few pushing Double 33s at the expense of public safety.


Executive Director | Truck Safety Coalition
Public Affairs Manager | Truck Safety Coalition

Debra Cruz Letter to the Editor – The Monitor

After I survived a truck crash on Aug. 8, 2008, one of my goals became to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck crashes. Eventually, I began volunteering for the Truck Safety Coalition, a non-profit organization consisting of families of truck crash victims and survivors who also shared in my goal. Since then, I have been able to speak to the public and policy makers about ways to make trucking safer for everyone.

When I heard that state lawmakers were considering increasing truck weights, and that federal lawmakers might consider increasing truck-trailer lengths, I was compelled to speak out against both of these policies, which are premised on a false promise of fewer trucks. The fact remains: The number of trucks on our roads has increased following every past size and weight increase.

Allowing even heavier trucks will further damage our crumbling infrastructure, in particular — bridges, which our state has more of than any other state. Permitting Double 33s will also not enhance safety. In addition to elongating existing double configurations by 10 feet, Double 33s also take longer to break, have a wider turning radius, and are more likely to off-track at low speeds. In short, both policies will not make trucking safer, especially at time when trends indicate truck safety is in decline.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released figures for 2015 that shows there were 4,067 truck fatalities — a 20 percent increase since 2009. In Texas, the trends in truck safety are even more troubling. Between 1994 and 2015, the past four years have been the deadliest with regards to truck crashes.

Clearly, we need to be doing more to prevent truck crashes.

I have been meeting with elected officials in Texas to discuss my crash, in which my vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, about how we can work together to make trucking safer. Had the truck in my crash been equipped with automatic emergency braking, I might not have written this letter, or sustained life-long brain injuries.

Debra Cruz, Truck Safety Coalition, Harlingen


Recent FedEx Crashes

We wanted to bring to your attention several disturbing crashes that have occurred recently. There are several contributing factors that caused these crashes, such as double tractor-trailers, fatigue, and failure to stop in time. But all of these crashes share one thing in common – a FedEx truck was involved.

Pennsylvania: FedEx truck hits Wayne Valley H.S. school bus on class trip to Dorney Park

Texas: I-30 Reopens After FedEx Truck Crashes, Spills Fuel

California: 1 Dead, 4 Injured in Interstate 5 Crash Near Coalinga

Mississippi: FedEx [double trailer] truck involved in Highway 78 crash

California: CHP Details Deadly Big Rig Crash on I-10 in Cabazon (FedEx double tractor trailer)

Tennessee: FedEx [double tractor trailer] driver issued fatigue citation after 8-vehicle crash on I-24

Texas: 18-wheeler crash shuts down I-35 in Salado (FedEx double tractor-trailer)

Tennessee: Answers sought after FedEx [double trailer] truck captured swerving for 60 miles on I-40 (no crash, but watch video)

One Person Dead and Four Injured in a Truck Crash in Isle of Wright County, VA

On May 19, 2016, at approximately 8:00 a.m., Annie Mae Eley, 86, was a back seat passenger in a Pontiac. The vehicle stopped at a red light in northbound VA Route 32, when the Pontiac was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The impact caused a chain reaction crash involving four vehicles.

Ms. Eley was transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center, where she succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash. Four other victims suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The truck driver was not injured. He was charged with reckless driving and other charges may be pending. The crash is under investigation by the Virginia State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: or send an email to

                                               WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Runner hit by a flying tire in Dade County, FL

On May 23, 2016, approximately 7:30 a.m., a truck driver was driving a tractor-trailer on the Rickenbacker Causeway, when two tires (each weighing more than 200 pounds) came off the truck. One tire went into a parking lot. The other tire bounced across several lanes of traffic and struck two runners jogging on the opposite side of the causeway.

One of the two runners was Stephanie Hilzinger, 40, who was knocked unconscious. She was running with her fiancé, Fernando Munoz, also in his 40s, who suffered cuts and bruises.  Ms. Hilzinger was transported to Ryder Trauma Center where she is in ICU with serious injuries

Initially, the truck driver was unaware of the circumstances. He was flagged down by another motorist and returned to the scene. The crash is under investigation by the Miami Police Department.

To find more information please visit the website: or send an email to

                                               WE ARE HERE TO HELP


Three People Dead and a Child in Critical Conditions due to a Truck Crash in Montgomery County, TX

On April 23, 2016, at approximately 11:00 a.m., a truck driver driving an 18-wheeler was on Texas 105 near South Walker Road when traffic slowed down due to a slow moving convoy. He failed to slow down and crashed into the back of a Mercedes Sedan. The impact forced the Mercedes into the back of Cadillac Sedan. A total of four vehicles were impacted in the crash.

Two people died at the scene. Both victims were identified as Eric Shirley, 57, and his passenger, Doris Moorer, 76. A mother, identified as Jennifer Crain, 31, and her son were taken to Conroe Regional Medical Center. Ms. Crain succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Her son was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for treatment of critical injuries.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the truck driver failed to control his speed before crashing into four vehicles. The truck driver was charged with three second degree felony counts of intoxication manslaughter and one felony count of injury to a child. The crash is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. 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 and 100,000 injured in large truck crashes every year in the United States and a portion of the preventable fatal crashes involve underride.

To find more information please visit the website: or send an email to

                                                            WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Five People Injured and One dead in a Truck Crash in Lee County, FL

On May 16, 2016, a truck driver was driving a tractor-trailer northbound on Summerlin Road in Fort Myers, when traffic ahead of him began to slow. He failed to slow down and crashed into the back of a Lincoln Town Car. The impact started a chain reaction crash involving a total of seven vehicles.

The Town Car burst into flames and the back seat passenger, Kristin Lee, 38, was fatally injured. The driver, James Cwanek, 70, and front seat passenger, Austin Perkins, were transported to Tampa Regional Hospital for treatment of critical injuries.

The driver of the vehicle in front of the Town Car, Brian Crump, 27, and his passenger, Nadine Saint-Vil, 25, were transported to Health Park Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

The next vehicle driven by Robert Ingalls, 84 was also injured. He was also transported to Health Park with serious injuries.

The truck driver suffered minor injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. Charges are pending the completion of the investigation.=

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: or send an email to 

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two People Critically Injured After a Truck Crash in Benton County, WA

On May 2, 2016, at approximately 10:30 a.m., Agustin Gonzalez, 73, was traveling northbound on WA Highway 225, when a westbound tractor-trailer pulled into his path as the truck driver attempted to turn south onto Highway 225 from Highway 224. The two vehicles collided in the intersection.

Mr. Gonzalez and his wife, Maria Gonzalez, 74, were injured and transported to Kadlec Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The truck driver was not injured and he was cited for improper lane travel as a result of the crash.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: or send an email to

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP


Middle School Teacher Died in a Truck Wreck in Cumberland County, ME

On April 20, 2016 at approximately 1:15 p.m., Adam Perron was driving a Pontiac Vibe westbound on U.S. Route 302, when a commercial truck driving east on U.S. Route 32, swerved into his path.

The truck driver struck Perron’s car on the driver’s side and continued down an embankment. The truck rolled over to the side trapping the truck driver inside.

Adam Perron, a teacher at Lake Region Middle School, died at the scene of the crash. The truck driver was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where he is currently in critical condition.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: or send an email to

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two Clarendon Women Killed in Truck Crash in Lonoke County, AR

On April 19, 2016, at approximately 9:30 a.m., when a woman identified as Linda Brewster, 47, and her passenger, Lora Piggee, 49, were traveling westbound on I-40 when a tractor-trailer struck the vehicle and a second semi-truck crashed into it from behind.

Both of the women died at the scene and neither of the truck drivers were injured. The crash is under investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: or send an email to



From the Truck Safety Coalition … 1 Killed, 1 Injured in Michigan Work Zone Truck Crash

In Michigan, two road workers were installing a highway sign at 5 p.m when a they were struck by a truck. The big rig crossed the white fog line into the work zone, killing one of the workers and injuring the other. The semi-truck driver was charged with reckless driving causing a death.

It is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and this fatal and injurious crash serves as a grave reminder that more must be done to ensure safety on our roads for the men and women that help fix and build them. Large trucks are involved in 30 percent of all fatal work zone crashes. TSC will continue supporting a federal mandate for forward collision avoidance mitigation braking on large trucks, and continue opposing efforts to allow Double 33s, which have a 22 foot longer stopping distance that existing double (28-foot) tractor trailers.

Link to Article:



From the Truck Safety Coalition… Pilot Fatigue is Not Acceptable, So Why is Tired Trucking?

Since the 2011 Hours of Service rules were first announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2011, the trucking industry has launched annual attacks trying to weaken these regulations. That same year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced comprehensive changes to rules governing pilot scheduling. Interestingly, there was much less push back from those in the aviation industry to limit the amount of hours a pilot can work.

The FAA rule changes are based on scientific research and data regarding circadian rhythms. The FAA also limited flight time – when the plane is moving under its own power before, during, or after flight – to 8 or 9 hours depending on the start time of the pilot’s entire flight duty period. Additionally, the rule addresses potential cumulative fatigue by placing weekly and 28-day limits on the amount of time a pilot may be assigned to any type of flight duty.

As a result of the FAA’s updates, commercial pilots seldom experience a 14-hour workday, which is not the case for many truckers. Given that the odds of dying in a traffic accident is 1 in 14,000, while there is only a 1 in 4.7 million chance of dying on a commercial flight, it is surprising that more people do not share our sense of urgency in needing to address the amount of hours truckers can work daily, weekly, and monthly.

It is unfortunate that there has been so much pushback from the trucking industry to embrace much-needed regulations that will prevent fatigue-related truck crash deaths and injuries. TSC will continue to defend HOS rules to ensure that truck drivers are adequately rested so that driving a truck becomes as safe as flying a plane.

Link to Article:

The Truck Safety Coalition Team


From the Truck Safety Coalition… Teacher Dies in Tragic North Carolina Crash

Last week, a dump truck towing a Bobcat bulldozer rear ended a minivan, causing it to collide into a tractor in front of it. Consequently, the minivan was destroyed and a 42 year-old high school English teacher was killed.

Unfortunately, this fatal crash could have prevented by commonsense proposals that TSC has been promoting for years. Adopting forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) technology could have prevented this crash, or at least mitigated the severity of it. Establishing a drug clearinghouse database would have also possibly prevented the crash. The driver of the dump truck, who had a history of driving violations as well as two pending drug charges, should not have been behind the wheel of this truck.  


The Truck Safety Coalition Team


From the Truck Safety Coalition… Coal Truck Driver Fled Fatal Crash in Bell County, KY

A coal truck driver crossed the center line and sideswiped a pickup truck, causing it to flip over. Then, the coal truck continued driving and struck a Nissan Maxima, killing the driver and the passenger of the car. The truck driver was eventually arrested after he was located at a nearby hospital. These crashes should have never happened given the that coal truck driver was operating with a suspended/revoked CDL. TSC promotes enhancing enforcement efforts to ensure drivers like this are prevented from operating trucks and jeopardizing public safety.


The Truck Safety Coalition Team


From the Truck Safety Coalition… Overweight Dump Truck Crashes into Tractor-Trailer in NY, Multiple Citations Issued

An overweight dump truck failed to yield at a roundabout, crossed over the center median, and struck a tractor-trailer. While it is fortunate that neither driver was injured, it is unfortunate that the dump truck driver was allowed to operate given his blatant disregard of the law. Aside from disobeying traffic laws, the dump truck driver also failed to follow the rules governing trucking. The State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit found that the dump truck’s brakes were out of adjustment and that the truck was five tons too heavy. TSC supports stronger commercial motor vehicle enforcement to identify and remove truck drivers who disregard safety and imperil the public.

The Truck Safety Coalition Team



Dawn King Op-Ed: Trucking weight bill could impact safety, infrastructure

I became involved in the Truck Safety Coalition after my father, Bill Badger, was killed in 2004 near the Georgia state line by a tired trucker who had fallen asleep at the wheel after driving all night and crashed into his car.

The Michigan House of Representatives just passed an anti-truck safety bill, House Bill 4418, that would grant an exemption to seasonal weight restrictions, also known as the “frost law,” for trucks carrying maple sap.

As the president of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), I have educated myself and others about different policies affecting truck safety for more than ten years. At the same time, I have advocated for laws that would enhance truck safety and defended existing truck safety laws and regulations from being rolled back. I hope that others will join me and TSC in this opportunity to stand up for safety and protect a law that protects the people by opposing HB 4418.

Granting yet another exemption to Michigan’s “frost law” contradicts the original intent of the law. Seasonal weight limits, which reduce weight limits on maximum axle loads, maximum wheel loads and gross vehicle weights for commercial motor vehicles driven on state roads from March until May were established to protect our state’s infrastructure. Because of the freezing and thawing that occurs during the aforementioned months, the roads become far more susceptible to damage caused by heavy vehicles. Therefore, allowing heavier trucks carrying maple sap during these months will result in more road damage, in turn costing the taxpayers even more.

HB 4418 also ignores Michigan’s subpar infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers found 22 percent of Michigan roads are in poor condition and 28 percent of Michigan bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Lawmakers should not be enacting this exception that will further exacerbate Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Additionally, one of the arguments for HB 4418 is based on the erroneous claim that heavier trucks will result in fewer trucks. Increasing the truck weight limit will not decrease the number of trips, result in fewer miles traveled, or improve safety by reducing the number of trucks on the highways. Despite several increases in weights of large trucks over the past few decades, the number of trucks and miles traveled on U.S. highways has consistently gone up.

The number of fatalities as a result of truck crashes in Michigan has also grown. From 2011 to 2014, total fatalities from all crashes in Michigan increased by just 1.3 percent, while fatalities from truck crashes in our state increased by 61 percent during that same time. Clearly, truck safety in our state, like infrastructure, is worsening. Michigan lawmakers must address this problem, but allowing heavier trucks is not the solution.

Bills, like this one, that increase truck weight limits industry-by-industry are nothing more than a back door strategy by special interests to come back to our state legislature in several years and lobby for heavier truck weights statewide. We should not allow this special interest hand out to pass at the expense of our infrastructure and our safety.

Dawn King is the president of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), a nonprofit that is a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).

Link to Article:

From The Truck Safety Coalition… Truck Strikes Bridge in New Jersey, Driver Arrested

A tractor trailer became wedged underneath a bridge after the driver attempted to pass through it. The crash caused debris to be scattered on the road, which led to more than three hours of traffic. While there were no injuries or fatalities as a result of this reckless driver’s actions, property damage only crashes should not be ignored. These crashes create traffic, which results in productivity loss, and cause damage to our country’s crumbling roads and bridges, which are repaired using taxpayer dollars.

Link to Article:

The Truck Safety Coalition Team


From The Truck Safety Coalition… Investigation Reveals One Trucking Company Violated State Weight Limit More Than 2,000 Times

A nine-month long investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol Carrier Enforcement Division uncovered one motor carrier’s blatant disregard for state weight limits. Mr. Bult’s Inc (MBI), the carrier, had more than 2,000 occurrences of their vehicles exceeding Nebraska’s weight limits. If not for concerned citizens and committed trooper, this bad actor might still be breaking the law and endangering the public. TSC will continue to promote commercial vehicle enforcement efforts and oppose increases to weight limits.

Link to Article:

The Truck Safety Coalition Team


From the Truck Safety Coalition… Safe Roads Illinois is Making Progress

The citizens of Elwood, Illinois, fed up with their community being overrun by heavy truck traffic and fearful of being needlessly injured or killed, formed Safe Roads Illinois to address the problems contributing to their untenable situation. As a result of their advocacy efforts, they recently scored a big win in their endeavors to enhance truck safety in their village and the surrounding county. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced plans to install a traffic light at an intersection because so many trucks have driven into a cemetery and damaged veterans’ graves.

TSC welcomes the traffic light as it enhances safety and prevents the desecration of veterans’ graves. The effort to improve truck safety is ongoing and occurs at many levels. For example, the FMCSA should also require entry-level driver training to ensure that truck drivers know how to properly operate their vehicle and are sufficiently knowledgeable about negotiating all routes.


The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Idaho State Legislature Contemplates Truck Weight Increase

As you may remember, one of the anti-truck-safety provisions that was included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill authorized Idaho to increase the truck weight limit on their roads from 105,500-lbs to 129,000-lbs. In order for this truck weight increase to take effect, the Idaho state legislature must pass a bill, which must then be signed by their governor. Several days ago, their State Senate passed such a bill, and it is now heading to the Idaho House of Representatives. Even though there are state groups that are opposing this measure, like the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance and Friends of Clearwater, the measure will likely pass.

TSC firmly opposes legislation to increase truck weight limits state-by-state as it is merely a back door attempt by trucking interests to come back to Congress in a few years and push for heavier truck weights nationwide.


The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Video on Truck Blind Spots Highlights Need for Side Underride Guards

Side underride guards are a simple improvement that can make large trucks safer for pedestrians and cyclists by physically covering the cavity between the front and rear wheels of the truck. Given that nearly half of bicyclists and more than one quarter of pedestrians killed by a large truck first impact the side of a truck, TSC will continue to advocate for these safety enhancements on all interstate single unit trucks and trailers. Please watch this video from the British Safety Council (below) that illustrates the dangers of trucks’ blind spots and underscores why these side protections would reduce the instances of side impact truck crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists that result in needless fatalities and injuries.


TSC Update: Truck Safety Action in Illinois

The people of Will County, Illinois are fighting to make truck safety a priority in their community. Heavy truck traffic resulting from unplanned, overdeveloped intermodal facilities in the area has overrun their community, creating an unsafe roads. Since 2014, Will County has experienced 20 truck crash fatalities, 156 truck crash injuries, and 909 truck crashes. As we all know, just one crash is too many, but nearly 1,000 crashes in the span of a year in one county is not just a tragedy, it is an epidemic.

The Will County Coalition for the People and Safe Roads Illinois were formed because the people in that area have realized that development is occurring so quickly that is leaving safety behind. In other words, the situations has become untenable. As a result, the coalition has created this list of advocacy items:

  • Encouraging smart, sensible, diverse and planned development
  • Making our roads and communities safe
  • Protecting our air and water
  • Holding developers accountable for their actions and impacts
  • Growing travel and tourism
  • Protecting our property value

The Truck Safety Coalition supports the endeavors of these local organizations, and we will continue to monitor their progress and update you on their accomplishments. We have long recognized the social, environmental, and financial costs of an unregulated trucking sector, which benefits the few at the expense of the many. We will continue our efforts to make trucking safer so that other towns, villages, and counties are not faced with a situation like this one where they are forced to allocate time and money to address truck safety deficiencies.

Link to website:

TSC Update: Double Tractor-Trailer Crash Underscores Work Zone & Truck Length Safety

A double tractor-trailer carrying handgun ammunition crashed and overturned in a work zone near Benson, AR. The truck driver was the only person injured, and there were no fatalities. An investigation is ongoing to determine what caused the truck driver to crash.

Unfortunately, this crash is just one of many that highlights the dangers of truck crashes in work zones. Although big trucks account for only 4 percent of U.S. registered vehicles, they are dramatically overrepresented in fatal work zone crashes. Large trucks were responsible for 30 percent of all fatal work zone crashes in 2014.

This past year TSC successfully opposed legislative efforts to increase the length of double tractor-trailers by five feet per trailer as the longer trailers would have increased the average stopping distance of the vehicle by 22 feet. As you can see in the pictures, another 22 feet of destruction would have resulted in even more cleanup costs, more traffic, and possibly more injuries and fatalities.

Link to Article:

TSC Update: Indiana’s Innovative Way of Addressing Overweight Trucks

Indiana is using innovative technology to save lives and money by addressing the issue of overweight trucks on Interstates highways. Their pilot program would use a combination of weight sensors in the road that would then trigger a camera to take a picture of the truck’s license plate as a method of catching drivers who violate the weight limit.

As we noted in our successful effort to defeat the Ribble Amendment to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which would have increased the federal truck weight limit from 80,000-lbs. to 91,000-lbs., heavier trucks will be more dangerous and more costly to taxpayers. Overweight trucks (greater than 80,000-lbs) disproportionately damage our already deteriorating roads and bridges, and, worse, only pay between 40 and 50 percent of the costs for which they are responsible.

TSC supports Indiana’s drive to enhance their enforcement efforts.


TSC Update: Safety and Infrastructure Concerns Slow Down WA Truck Weight Increase Bill

The Washington State Senate is considering a bill, SB 6265, that would increase the weight limit for agriculture trucks traveling on state roads in Washington. Thankfully, there are several state groups that oppose this measure, including the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and the State Patrol, citing data that show heavier trucks would decrease safety while increasing the wear and tear on roads and bridges.

According to Washington’s DOT, raising the weight limit from 20,000 to 22,000 pounds per axle would result in a 50 percent increase in wear and tear. In dollars, this translates to an additional $15 million to $25 million per year in road maintenance costs and an additional $32 million a year in maintaining bridges.

The TSC agrees with the Washington DOT and State Patrol, and we have continually stated that heavier trucks will not result in fewer trucks, but more dangerous trucks. We will be mobilizing our Washington volunteers to contact their State Senators to oppose this truck weight increase proposal.



NTSB’s 2016 Most Wanted List Released

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its annual Top 10 Most Wanted List (attached), which represents the agency’s advocacy priorities. TSC agrees with the NTSB on these much-need safety changes, six of which relate to trucking. We have seen progress on some of these issues, but there is still more work to be done.

Reduce Fatigue-Related Crashes

  • Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule was released in December 2015, which requires ELDs on trucks.
  • TSC has been and continues to work towards enhancing Hours-of-Service requirements and reducing truckers’ allowable hours.
  • TSC supports rulemaking that would require truck drivers to undergo sleep apnea screening.

Promote Availability of Collision Avoidance Technologies in Highway Vehicles

  • TSC wants mandatory installation of forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) technology on all new large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.
  • NHTSA estimates show that:
    • Current generation F-CAM systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year.
    • Future generation F-CAM systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually.
  • Research indicates that every year a full implementation of F-CAM is delayed:
    • 166 people will unnecessarily die.
    • 8,000 individuals will suffer injuries.

End Substance Impairment in Transportation

  • TSC is awaiting a final rule for a drug clearinghouse, which would create a federal database to track and store information about CDL holders who have drug and alcohol-related incidents on their records.
  • The use of any substance, including Schedule II drugs, that impairs cognitive or motor ability should be monitored or eliminated for operators of commercial motor vehicles.

Require Medical Fitness for Duty (See Reduce Fatigue and End Substance Impairment sections)

  • 69% of long-haul truck drivers (LHTDs) are obese compared to 31% in the adult working population.
  • 17% of LHTDs are morbidly obese.

Expand Use of Recorders to Enhance Safety

  • Event Data Recorders (EDR) are devices that record information related to highway vehicle crash.
  • EDRs record technical vehicle and occupant information for a brief period of time before, during and after a crash. For example, EDRs may record speed, steering, braking, acceleration, seatbelt use, and, in the event of a crash, force of impact and whether airbags deployed.
  • TSC supports standardizing and mandating EDRs in all large trucks.

Disconnect from Deadly Distractions

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publish a final rule in 2010 that prohibits texting by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers while operating in interstate commerce and imposes sanctions, including civil penalties and disqualification from operating CMVs in interstate commerce.
  • Recent research commissioned by FMCSA shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) is 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in texting while driving than for those who do not.

NTSB 2016 Top 10 Most Wanted

Link to NTSB Website:


Truck driver destroys historic bridge by driving her 30-ton trailer across it – because she got her math wrong and didn’t know she was FIVE TIMES over the weight limit


  • Mary Lambright, 23, made the 1880 historic bridge collapse on Christmas Day in Paoli, Indiana
  • Iron bridge had a weight limit of six tons – her vehicle and trailer weighed about 60,000 pounds – or 30 tons – at crash
  • Lambright told police she didn’t know how many pounds were in six tons 
  • No injuries, but the bridge collapsed under the weight and was destroyed

A historic iron bridge was destroyed when a 23-year woman drove her 30-ton trailer across it – because she got her math wrong and did not realize she was five times over the 6-ton weight limit.

Mary Lambright was attempting to haul a 53-foot box trailer containing 43,000 pounds of bottled water to a Walmart parking lot with her Volvo truck on Christmas Day in Paoli, Indiana.

She drove onto the iron 1880 structure and immediately hit the top of the bridge as her truck was too high. The structure then buckled the under the pressure and collapsed at around 12 noon.

Lambright, of Fredericksburg, told police she knew the iron bridge had a weight limit of six tons and wasn’t equipped for semis due to a sign that was posted, but said she didn’t know how many pounds were in six tons.

Lambright and her 17-year-old cousin who was in the passenger seat managed to escape unharmed.

‘She’s a very inexperienced driver,’ Paoli Police Chief Randy Sanders said of Lambright explaining that she had left the Amish order a year or so ago, reports Herald Times Online.

The Amish use nonmotorized modes of transportation so her experience could be limited to horse-and-buggy transportation.

Most Amish are not permitted to drive motor vehicles but are allowed to hire outsiders — known as ‘English’ — to drive them.

Sanders says Lambright, was an independent driver, hauling the bottled water in a leased truck from Penske for Louisville Logistics.

According to police, Lambright was attempting to make a delivery at a Walmart when she missed a turning, reports WBIW.

She said she tried to turn around in a parking lot, but it was not possible because there was equipment in the way.

She told police she did not feel confident in backing up the truck so she then attempted to cross the iron bridge.

Lambright was traveling more than 30 miles per hour in order to get the vehicle stuck that far on the bridge, according to police.

Police cited her for reckless operation of a tractor-trailer, a class B misdemeanor; disregarding a traffic control device, a class B infraction; and overweight on posted bridge.

She could be fined for the infractions and Louisville Logistics could also face legal action.

Lambright received her Commercial Drivers License (CDL) endorsement in May.

The French Lick Fire Department wrote on Facebook: ‘Bridge collapse in Paoli with no injuries reported.

‘What a sad day for the Old Iron Bridge located on South Gospel St.’

Although some Facebook commenters blamed the driver, many others blamed the school that certified her and the company that allowed her to get behind the wheel. 

One person wrote: ‘I would look into the trucking school or trucking company that sponsored her training.

‘How do you go thru CDL school and get certified and not know the very basics of weight and/or the weight of even your empty truck and trailer which is still too heavy?’ 

Good year for truck-safety laws – Daphne Izer Lewiston Sun LTE

As this year comes to end, I look forward to the future wherein roads and bridges are safer than they would have been, if not for the dedication and hard work of the Truck Safety Coalition’s (which PATT is a part of) vast network of volunteers.

Equipped with facts and driven by the desire to ensure that others do not have to endure the same grief we did, our organization successfully opposed corporate handouts, like double 33-foot tractor trailers, from being included in the omnibus bill.

The notion that increasing the length of double trailers from 28-feet per trailer to 33-feet per trailer would be safer was premised on the argument that longer trucks will result in fewer trucks. Looking back at the history of truck size and weight increases, however, it becomes clear that the promise of fewer trucks has never come to fruition. Additionally, those longer trucks would have been more difficult to operate due to longer stopping distances and wider turns; and more difficult for motorists to maneuver around due to larger blind spots.

Congress listened to the public and rejected that earmark. It reinforces the fact that advocating to make trucking safer, in the wake of my son, Jeff, and his friends being killed in a large truck crash, is not for naught.

Moving forward, I hope Congressmen will not use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect public safety should be subject to open debate, research and analysis.

Daphne Izer, Lisbon

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers

Link to LTE:

Daphne Izer Letter to the Editor in Bangor Daily News

Truck safety distortions

Mark Rosenker distorted the facts about the safety of double 33s in a Dec. 8 BDN letter to the editor. The former National Transportation Safety Board chairman is now an adviser to the Coalition for Efficient and Reliable Trucking, a group that consists of large corporations that stand to make massive profits if these longer, less safe trucks are allowed on our roads.

Rosenker avoids noting that data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study showed that lengthening double tractor-trailers from 28-feet to 33-feet will result in a six-foot wider turning radius and 22-foot longer stopping distance.

He also ignores the fact that double 33s would replace many of the existing single 53-foot trailers. According to the Truckload Carriers Association, there would be significant diversion within trucking as, in the past, shippers will not support equipment that does not meet the maximum size allowed.

Moreover, pushing for these longer trucks would exacerbate what the trucking industry’s claims is a major problem — insufficient parking for trucks. Adding a minimum of 10 extra feet will actually reduce the amount of useable parking spaces.

In referencing “years of testing” in Alberta, Canada, on double 33s, Rosenker, again, fails to paint a full picture. John Woodrooffe, referenced by Rosenker, attributed much of the good safety performance of longer trucks to the fact that Alberta has among the strictest driver, carrier and vehicle regulations.

Overall, it is disheartening that Rosenker, once the head of a safety agency, has become a peddler of privately-funded pseudoscience.

Daphne Izer


Parents Against Tired Truckers


Link to Letter to the Editor:





ARLINGTON, VA (December 16, 2015) – The United States Congress today released an omnibus spending bill that includes the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations legislation, H.R. 2577.

The Truck Safety Coalition worked closely with a coalition of survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, first responders, truck drivers, trucking companies, and safety advocacy groups to have 33-foot double tractor-trailers removed from the legislation. We hope to continue working with these groups to address missed opportunities to improve truck safety going forward.

We want to especially thank Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their leadership, and the hard work of their staffs, in our fight against these longer, less safe trucks.

We successfully advocated for the exclusion of a measure hindering a rulemaking to determine the adequacy of minimum insurance for motor carriers. The minimum financial requirement has not been raised in over 35 years, and is woefully inadequate. Congress should not be using overly burdensome study requirements to stop attempts to evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility.

While we are disappointed that the Collins rider affecting hours of service (HOS) was included in the omnibus, we will continue to educate the public and our lawmakers about the dangers of tired truckers. Requiring a truck driver to work up to 82 hours per week will only cause more fatigue related truck crashes, and, in turn, more injuries and deaths. Rather than acquiescing to industry demands, Congress should be making data-driven decisions. We hope that the release of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule will help law enforcement isolate bad actors and help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) obtain better data on truck driver fatigue.

Moving forward, we hope that Members of Congress will no longer try to use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect the safety and wellbeing of the public should be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.

Overall, the Truck Safety Coalition welcomes the improvements made to the THUD component of the omnibus spending bill, and will continue to work to improve the HOS rules.


Joint Op-Ed: Allowing Longer Tractor Trailers Will Have Serious Consequences


Every day families from Michigan, Florida, Maine and California, as well as millions of other Americans drive on our nation’s roads to go to work, vacation, run errands, and come home. Sadly, each year large truck crashes kill nearly 4,000 people and injure another 100,000 people before they reach their destination. Each of us of became involved with the Truck Safety Coalition in order to make trucking safer so that another daughter, mother, or sister did not have to endure the sudden and overwhelming grief that accompanies losing a loved one in a large truck crash.

Congress has a real opportunity to reverse the worsening truck crash death and injury trends and to protect public safety. Our elected officials can start by taking out provisions from the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that mandate Double 33 foot tractor-trailers throughout our country and allow truck drivers to work upwards of 80 hours per week. These proposals are industry earmarks that do nothing to advance safety, and, if enacted, will actually degrade safety.

Increasing the length of double tractor trailers from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet per trailer will result in longer vehicles that are up to 91 feet in length. Statistics show that Double 33s have a six-foot wider turning radius, a 33 percent increase in low-speed off-tracking, and a 22-foot longer stopping distance than existing double tractor trailers. In short, these longer trucks are harder to operate and will make merging and passing more difficult for truck drivers and other motorists. If anything, Congress should conduct a more in-depth study on the safety of Double 33s before mandating them on our roads and bridges. The American public wants our Senators and Representatives to make data-driven decisions, not hazardous experiments that endanger us in order to pander to moneyed interests.

Increasing the hours of service for truck drivers is another prime example of a policy proposal that puts the interests of businesses before the safety of individuals. Truck driver fatigue is a major safety concern and contributing factor to fatal truck crashes. Congress should be doing more to address this problem. Unfortunately, Senator Collins has included language that reduces a truck driver’s weekend and increases their work week from 70 hours to 82 hours. Permitting truck drivers to work for up to 82 hours per week, by removing the two night requirement and one restart per week limit, will push tired truck drivers to continue operating and putting lives at risk.

Congress should stop and consider the consequences of passing legislation that is riddled with corporate handouts. Failure to change the direction our country is heading with regards to truck safety will result in more than 20,000 people being killed and nearly 500,000 people being injured in truck crashes in the next five years. These numbers are staggering, but we know from our own experiences that it just takes the death of one pe


Daphne Izer,

Lisbon, ME

Founder, Parents Against Tired

Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer,

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93


Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, Florida

Vice President, TSC

Board Member, Member, Motor Carrier

Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)

Mother of David Mathis ,

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn


Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04


Dawn King

Davisburg, Michigan

President, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC)

Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and

Safe Highways (CRASH)

Daughter of Bill Badger,

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04


Tami Friedrich Trakh

Corona, California

Board Member, CRASH

Member, MCSAC

Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of

Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker

and Anthony Mercurio,

Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

Link to op-ed:

Thanksgiving Travels Should Remind DRIVE Act (H.R. 22) Conferees to Promote Safety

Thanksgiving Travels Should Remind DRIVE Act (H.R. 22) Conferees to Promote Safety

November 24, 2015

Dear Conferee:

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year with millions of people driving to visit friends and family. For many of us, however, we are one or several guests short. The absence of a friend or a family member serves as a grave reminder of the sudden, unnecessary loss that we experienced upon losing a loved one in a large truck crash. Busy travel weekends like this remind us of the dire need to reform our current system and advance safety on our nation’s roads and bridges. The best way to ensure the safety of the motoring public in the long term is for Congress to remove the anti-safety provisions in the multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

A provision permitting interstate teen truck drivers is a misguided measure that will allow higher-risk drivers to get behind the wheel of an 80,000-lbs. truck. Yet, Congress is moving forward on this despite the public’s firm opposition to lowering interstate truck driving age from 21 to 18. A recently release public opinion poll showed that 77 percent of the public is opposed to this proposal. Congress should listen to the public, look at the safety statistics on teen drivers, and act accordingly.

Furthermore, the bill is stuffed like a turkey with other industry handouts such as providing exemptions to the federal weight limit and hours of service (HOS) requirements for certain industries. If passed, families will be forced to maneuver around heavier trucks and drive next to truckers who could be working for more than 80 hours per week. Legislation to increase truck weight limits, or loosen HOS requirements, industry-by-industry is merely a back door attempt by trucking interests to come back to Congress in a few years and push for increases across the board.

It is upsetting that some Members of Congress are so willing to accept dangerous policy proposals without studying them first, like mandating Double 33 tractor trailers and allowing teen interstate truckers. It is even more upsetting, however, that these same lawmakers erect roadblocks to impede studies on pro-safety policies, like increasing the minimum levels of insurance or requiring forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) braking systems on all large trucks. Congress should be utilizing the rulemaking process to ensure they have the best information to make a data-driven decision on an issue, not to block measures that do not align with special interest requests.

This holiday season, as families eagerly await for the arrival of their loved ones, we urge you to remedy the safety setbacks in the DRIVE Act before another family has an empty chair at their Thanksgiving table this year. As survivors and families who lost loved ones in large truck crashes, we would be thankful for a safe holiday weekend and for a transportation bill that actually advances safety for the next six years.


Pdf: Thanksgiving Letter to Conferees









Yesterday, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, and the American Highway Users Alliance, held a press conference on the results of a new study that identifies and ranks America’s worst 50 traffic bottlenecks, “Unclogging America’s Arteries 2015, Prescriptions for Healthier Highways.” While we welcome more information about the effects of congestion on our roads, we were stunned that safety was largely omitted from the discussion. This should not be the case considering there was a 17 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 28 percent increase in truck crash injuries between 2009 and 2013. Congress cannot simply acquiesce to the trucking industry’s demands; failing to identify opportunities to improve safety as part of the congestion discussion is a mistake.

Thanksgiving, for many, is a joyous time when families gather around the table to talk and reflect. In families like ours, however, the empty seat at our table serves as a constant reminder of our loved ones that were needlessly killed in truck crashes. This year during the Thanksgiving weekend, approximately 55 people will be killed and another 1,300 people will be injured in large truck crashes. We must do more to stop these truck crash deaths and injuries from occurring; we must do more to ensure that other families don’t have an empty chair this year at their tables.

Unfortunately, select shipping and trucking interests are currently advancing efforts in Congress that will benefit only them, while making our roads less safe for everyone. Our senators and representatives should not vote for the cornucopia of dangerous special interest handouts stuffed into the DRIVE Act. Trucking interests may be thankful for provisions allowing interstate teen truck drivers, permitting greater Hours of Service exemptions to certain classes of motor carriers, or slowing rulemakings to review the minimum level of insurance, but the motoring public and taxpayers will continue to pay with their wallets and lives.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves’ aggressive agenda to include language in the DRIVE Act and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill to increase truck size and weight speak to the ATA’s true intentions – increasing profits at any expense. There is no safety rationale for Congress to increase the length of double tractor trailers from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet per trailer, which would result in a 22 foot longer stopping distance and a larger blind spot.

This misguided policy cannot be the solution to the troubling fact that trucks constitute four percent of the registered vehicles in this country, but are involved in 28 percent of all fatal work zone crashes. If anything, a longer stopping distance will make tragic crashes where the truck driver is unable to brake in time before colliding into the backs of cars stopped in traffic more common. We have seen these types of truck crashes all too often: an April crash in Georgia that claimed the lives of five nursing students, a June crash in Tennessee that left six dead, and just two days ago in Pennsylvania, two more lives were ended by a truck that crashed into them because the truck driver could not stop his vehicle in time.

Instead of considering longer trucks, Congress should have been working to include a mandate for forward collision avoidance mitigation (F-CAM) braking systems on all large trucks. This technology warns drivers and, ultimately, will apply the brakes if the truck is getting too close to another object or vehicle. It is disappointing that Congress did not include an F-CAM requirement in the DRIVE Act that would actually prevent crashes, reduce injuries, and save lives.

In yesterday’s statement, former governor Graves said, “these bottlenecks cost our economy billions with the delays they cause moving our nation’s freight. They are truckers’ worst nightmares come true, but one that tens of thousands of our nation’s freight haulers have to deal with daily.”

Taking someone’s life should be a trucker’s worst nightmare, not being delayed.

Please join us in spreading a message of safety this holiday season. This Thanksgiving should not be about the trucking industry being thankful for a holiday weekend in which as few dollars as possible were lost due to traffic and delays. It should be about the public being thankful for a safe holiday weekend in which as few people as possible were needlessly killed or injured in truck crashes.


Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker-Feinstein Amendment to Conduct Safety Study of Double 33s



Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker-Feinstein Motion

To Conduct Safety Study of Double 33-Foot Trailers by Voice Vote

ARLINGTON, VA (November 19, 2015) – Yesterday, sound judgement prevailed and the U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, an amendment proposed by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to require a safety study on Double 33 tractor trailers before they are federally permitted.

This is a huge victory for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, and the American motoring public. We appreciate that the Senate voted responsibly by seeking to fully understand the safety impact of these longer trucks before considering whether they should be allowed on our roads.

This was a great win, but there is still a long road ahead. The amendment has to make it out of the Conference Committee, which will consolidate the House and Senate versions of the THUD Appropriations bills. The final bill must then be passed again by both chambers and signed into law by the President. We hope that the Senate’s second vote in two weeks to oppose a federal mandate requiring Double 33s sends a clear and consistent message to the House that safety must remain a top priority in crafting transportation policy.

A recent poll showed that 77% of Americans reject the ideas of these larger Double 33 tractor trailers being driven on our roads. We are pleased that the Senate listened to three out of four Americans, instead of the handful of industry lobbyists who are pushing this dangerous agenda with no regard for its effect on public safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is grateful for all the Members of Congress that listened to the stories of those who lost family members to truck crushes, and those who survived them. A special thank you goes out to Senators Wicker and Feinstein for their leadership on truck safety issues and for working tirelessly to underscore the dangers of allowing these longer trucks.

Statement of John Lannen – Passage of Wicker-Feinstein Amendment

Letter to Conferees – DRIVE Act (H.R. 22)

November 13, 2015

Dear Conferee:

As representatives of the nation’s leading consumer, public health, and safety organizations, and families who have had loved ones killed in preventable motor vehicle and motor carrier crashes, we are writing to express our continuing concerns and strong objections to the House and Senate highway reauthorization bills’ failure to advance needed public safety laws and programs. As you begin conference negotiations to harmonize the language in the two bills, we urge you to remove anti-safety provisions and include commonsense and cost-effective safety improvements. Without your efforts to ensure critical changes to address the rising carnage on our roads and highways, the next surface transportation reauthorization bill could turn out to be the most anti-safety transportation legislation ever enacted into law.

For 25 years, the surface transportation reauthorization bill has been a laudable, bi-partisan effort to advance sound, sensible and cost-saving proposals resulting in safer cars and trucks, safer drivers and safer roads. As a result, laws were enacted that: ensured airbags became standard equipment in the front seat of all passenger vehicles and a freeze on the spread of double and triple-trailer trucks in every state was achieved (1991); created a national zero tolerance blood alcohol content (BAC) law for underage drinking and driving (1995); required advanced airbags and initiated incentive grants for occupant protection and stronger drunk driving laws (1998); developed requirements for vehicle safety standards resulting in electronic stability control technology on every vehicle, improved roof strength, ejection mitigation, and mandatory truck safety improvements (2005); and, advanced motorcoach safety improvements for basic occupant safety protections such as seatbelts, roof crush prevention and occupant ejection protections (2012). In stark contrast, 2015 marks the year that the highway reauthorization bill does little to address the well-known issues and workable solutions to deadly safety problems, and also throws safety in reverse by omitting critically needed safety measures and including repeals of existing safety rules.

We urge you to remedy the following safety issues during Conference:

Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety: Teen Truck and Bus Drivers, Public Safety Scores, and Anti-Safety Exemptions: Provisions to allow teen drivers to get behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound rig or bus and operate in interstate commerce must be removed. This misguided idea was resoundingly rejected by DOT ten years ago because of overwhelming opposition and compelling research showing the unacceptable high crash risk of young drivers. Previous studies have shown intrastate CMV drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and CMV drivers between the ages of 19-20 are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. A sensible outcome would be to strike the pilot program for teen bus and truck drivers and substitute it with a study of the safety of intrastate truck drivers before launching this program.

Additionally, provisions to hide from public view the safety scores of unsafe motor carriers including passenger bus companies benefit only carriers with poor safety scores. Keeping consumers in the dark about the safety of their families as they drive on roadways or as their children are transported on school field trips is unacceptable and must be stricken from the bill.

Moreover, we oppose all of the many exemptions to truck size and weight limits and truck driver hours of service requirements, as well as the burdensome regulatory roadblocks which impede safety advances.

Inadequate Penalties: There have been ten Congressional hearings on vehicle safety defect issues during the 113th and 114th Congresses, yet Congress has not taken any meaningful or corrective actions to stop auto industry cover-up and to hold corporations accountable. Manufacturers who knowingly conceal vehicle safety defects or sell a dangerously defective vehicle should be subject to criminal penalties, as is the case under many other federal consumer enforcement laws. Higher fines and criminal sanctions are needed to prevent manufacturers from viewing penalties as just another cost of doing business.

Increase National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Funding Levels: NHTSA is drastically underfunded, receiving only one percent of the overall DOT budget even though 95 percent of transportation-related fatalities and 99 percent of transportation injuries occur on our streets and highways. There are few, if any, products on the U.S. market that have a greater impact on the public health of Americans than the automobile. In addition, their economic impact is extraordinary, with new and used cars representing over $1 trillion in sales and $14 billion in advertising. Yet with so many lives, injuries and consumer dollars at stake, Congress is choosing to underfund the one agency that has the potential to reduce the tragic toll vehicles take on America’s public health. Pending language slashes authorization levels for carrying out the mission of NHTSA by a total of $90 million over 6 years. There is an urgent need to correct NHTSA’s chronic underfunding, and not to further hobble the agency’s safety and oversight mission.

Eliminate Loopholes to Rental Car Recalls and Include Used Cars: It is necessary to fix loopholes in the bill language that limit consumer protection from defective vehicles only to companies that rent cars as their primary business. Customers of car dealerships that provide loaner or rental cars need the same safety recall protection, but dealerships would be exempted under this provision. Likewise, purchasers of used cars should not be imperiled by a safety recall the car dealer knows about but refuses to repair.

Remove Bureaucracy and Roadblocks to Safety Rulemaking: Mandating numerous wasteful studies and industry-stacked Councils, Regulatory Negotiation committees and additional bureaucratic hurdles and procedures impose roadblocks to needed safety rules by NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The unnecessary impediments must be eliminated.

Advance Child Safety: The final bill should include provisions requiring NHTSA to issue safety rules to prevent serious injury or death to children and other passengers in rear seats of vehicles.  There is an urgent need to improve front seat back strength because seat backs have been shown to fail even in low speed crashes killing and maiming children in the rear seat who are restrained.  The current federal vehicle safety standard has not been changed since it was first adopted in 1967. Furthermore, it is time that NHTSA moves forward on a rule requiring a reminder system for children inadvertently left behind in a vehicle.  Children are needlessly dying while the adoption of available life-saving technology is delayed.

Considering the record recalls involving over 100 million vehicles over the last two years for vehicle defects which led to at least 200 preventable deaths, corporate cover-ups, and an unacceptable mortality and morbidity toll each year of 33,000 deaths and over 2 million injuries, this bill is a unique opportunity to advance bi-partisan safety solutions. Unless significant changes are made to the bill, it will seriously imperil public safety for the next six years and beyond. We urge you to take action that will save lives and spare families, and not succumb to special interest roll backs that jeopardize safety on our nation’s highways.



Letter pdf: Letter to Conferees




Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees on Safety Study of Double 33s



Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees

To Study Safety Effects of Double 33 Foot Trailers by Margin of 56-31

ARLINGTON, VA (November 10, 2015) – Today, reason prevailed and the U.S. Senate voted in favor of Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Motion to Instruct Conferees to require a safety study of Double 33s before mandating these longer trucks on our roads. This nearly 2-1 vote was a major win for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, public health and safety groups, and the American public. We are pleased that the Senate employed a data-driven approach that allows for further study on the safety effects of Double 33s as well as an opportunity for public input.

In voting for this measure, Senators listened to the Department of Transportation recommendation that there should be no increase to truck size or weight because of insufficient data to support such a change. This was the right move, especially given the steadily worsening trends of truck crash fatalities and injuries. Congress should understand the impact of the length increase on pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, as well as the additional wear on our nation’s roads and bridges before mandating them. It is only logical to study this truck configuration further, which we already know takes 22-feet longer to stop and have a six-foot wider turning radius than Double 28s.

As the House and Senate head to conference to resolve the differences between their competing versions of the multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), there is still work to be done to improve the safety title of the final legislation. We ask negotiators to remove provisions that allow teenagers to drive trucks across state lines as well as those that hinder rulemaking to increase the minimum insurance required by large trucks. Rejecting measures to increase truck size and weight are a step in the right direction; however, allowing the aforementioned safety rollbacks to remain in the final bill would be a step backwards for safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the congressional support for truck crash survivors, the families of truck crash victims, and for our mission to promote safety. We want to specifically thank Senators Wicker and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their outstanding leadership on this issue.

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker MTI (Double 33s)

Release: House Passes DRIVE Act (H.R. 22)

For Immediate Release: November 5, 2015

Contact: Beth Weaver | 301.814.4088 |

House Passes DRIVE Act (H.R. 22)

Truck Weight Increase Amendment is Defeated

More Anti-Safety Provisions Must Be Removed as Bill Heads to Conference

Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2015) – Today the House of Representatives passed its multi-year surface transportation reauthorization legislation, H.R. 22. While this bill still contains anti-safety provisions, a nation-wide truck weight increase is not one of them. A large and diverse coalition of truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, safety advocates, labor, truckers, and trucking companies joined together to urge Congress to reject heavier trucks. They listened. By a bipartisan vote of 236 against and 187 in favor of the measure, the amendment failed – a resounding rejection of the misinformation and specious arguments that heavier trucks will result in fewer and safer trucks.

It is unfortunate, however, that the House’s version of the Highway Bill still contains dangerous safety rollbacks and omits any safety advances, some of which were offered as amendments. We urge conferees to remove these anti-safety amendments that were approved in the House as well as dangerous provisions in the base bill:

Opposed Amendments Agreed to by House by Voice Vote:

Farenthold #76: Grandfathers heavy trucks on future I-­69 – agreed to by voice vote.

Ribble #23: Increases air-mile radius from 50 to 75 under Hours of Service – agreed to by voice vote.

Duffy #9, Crawford #60, Lipinski #106, Nolan #3: Various weight exemptions – offered as en bloc amendment.

Crawford #93: Allows towing of two empty trailers together – offered as en bloc amendment.

Neugebauer #67: No hazmat endorsement for farm trucks transporting fuel – offered as en bloc amendment.

All of these exemptions weaken safety and undermine law enforcement efforts.

Opposed Provisions in House Highway Bill:

Sec. 5404: Allowing Teen Truckers                    

  • There is no data that analyzes whether it is safe to allow teenagers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate traffic. In fact, research has demonstrated that truck drivers younger than age 21 have higher crash rates than drivers who are 21 years of age and older.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) previously declined to lower the minimum age for an unrestricted CDL to 18 as part of a pilot program because the agency could not conclude that the “safety performance of these younger drivers is sufficiently close to that of older drivers of CMVs[.]” The public overwhelmingly opposed the idea with 96 percent of individuals who responded opposing the proposal along with 88 percent of the truck drivers and 86 percent of the motor carriers who responded.

Secs. 5221, 5223, 5224: Changing Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Data

  • Hiding critical safety information in the FMCSA’s CSA program will deprive consumers from learning about the comparative safety of motor carriers and bus companies when hiring a motor carrier company to transport goods or people.
  • Letting the public know the government safety scores promotes public accountability and improves safety. CSA is working as intended and includes a process so that it can continue to be fine-tuned and improved.

Sec. 5501: Delaying Rulemaking on Minimum Financial Responsibility

  • Minimum insurance levels have not been increased in more than 35 years.
  • During this time the cost of medical care has increased significantly and the current minimum requirement of $750,000 is inadequate to cover the cost of one fatality or serious injury, let alone crashes in which there are multiple victims.

Sec. 5224: Limiting Shipper and Broker Liability

  • Shields brokers and shippers from responsibility based on low standards related to hiring decisions. Reducing standards effectively removes safety from the carrier selection process.

We are thankful for the efforts and hard work of our network of volunteer truck safety advocates, who consist of truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims. Their tireless dedication to improving truck safety is admirable, and their voices were definitely heard on Capitol Hill this past month as we had our largest Sorrow to Strength Conference to date. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Representatives Lois Frankel (FL), John Lewis (GA), and Hank Johnson (GA). Had your commonsense amendments passed the House, motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and truck drivers would be much safer.

Trucking has become increasingly less safe, as seen by the 17% increase in truck crash fatalities and 28% increase in truck crash injuries between 2009 and 2013. Congress must do more to reverse these trends, not exacerbate them. We ask the conferees to remove the provisions that will endanger public safety, and, instead, promote policies that will make safety a number one priority.

Press Release: Passage of House Highway Bill

Victory for Truck Safety: Statement of John Lannen on Failure of Ribble Amendment

Contact: Beth Weaver | 301.814.4088,



House of Representatives Votes to Reject Truck Weight Increase on our Nation’s Highways by a Margin of 236 to 187

During Consideration of 6-Year Surface Transportation Bill (H.R. 22)

ARLINGTON, VA (November 4, 2015) – Last night, the House of Representatives voted and rejected an anti-safety amendment sponsored by Representatives Reid Ribble (WI), Kurt Schrader (CO), David Rouzer (NC), and Collin Peterson (MN). The amendment sought to increase the federal truck weight limit from 80,000-lbs. to 91,000-lbs. This vote was a victory for safety and for all those who travel on our highways. The American people have been clear and consistent in their opposition to heavier trucks and Members of the House listened.

In voting against this measure, Representatives dismissed recycled myths and instead made decisions driven by data. The Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted a study on Truck Size and Weight, required by Congress in MAP-21, and concluded that there should be no increase to truck size and/or weight. We are pleased that Members who voted in opposition to the Ribble Amendment appealed to logic and listened to the initial findings of the DOT study.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the Congressional support for our victims and for our mission to promote safety. During our biennial Sorrow to Strength conference, which took place two weeks prior to this vote, truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims came to Washington, D.C. to let their representatives know that there is a dire need to stem the increasing rates of truck crash deaths and injuries. Members were moved by the accounts of loss and tragedy.

We were proud to have joined a diverse coalition of safety advocates, law enforcement, labor, truck drivers, and trucking companies in this efforts. We are particularly thankful for the leadership of Representatives Jim McGovern (MA), Michael Capuano (MA), Lou Barletta (PA), Grace Napolitano (CA), and Jerrold Nadler (NY) in keeping safety at the forefront of the debate on the transportation bill.

Statement on Ribble Amendment

FairWarning Article: Big Trucks, Big Bucks

Big Trucks, Big Bucks

Heavy-Spending Trucking Industry Pushes Congress to Relax Safety Rules

truck-capitol-v3-01Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers.

The proposals represent a wish list of the trucking industry, including allowing significantly longer and heavier trucks, and younger drivers. The industry spends heavily on lobbying and campaign contributions, giving largely to Republicans, who control both the House and Senate.

Supporters insist the proposals actually will improve public safety by cutting the number of trucks on the road while also helping the trucking industry address a shortage of drivers. But critics reject the safety claims as ridiculous, saying the proposals would enrich the trucking industry, not protect the public.

Truck safety advocates – many of whom have lost loved ones in big rig crashes – are dismayed over what they describe as the industry’s efforts to use Congress to achieve dangerous policy changes.

“There’s no logical reason why this would make our streets safer,” said Laurie Higginbotham of Memphis, Tenn. She said her 33-year-old son, Michael, was killed when his Jeep Cherokee plowed into a tractor-trailer making an illegal U-turn on a dark stretch of road in November 2014.

highway deaths.xls

One of Higginbotham’s senators, Republican Lamar Alexander, has taken more than $112,000 from trucking interests since the beginning of 2009. Twice this year, he’s voted for bills that include provisions loosening rules on big rigs.

Higginbotham said she tried asking the Tennessee senator’s staff how he thought these changes would help the public, but didn’t get very far. “They didn’t have an answer, other than ‘Well, maybe we’ll have less trucks’” on the road, she said. Alexander didn’t respond to requests for comment.

One of the proposals he voted for – a measure considered particularly dangerous by safety advocates — would allow trucks nationwide to haul two 33-foot trailers, up from a current limit of 28 feet. That’s the equivalent of an eight-story building turned on its side and rumbling down the highway.

Other changes sought by the industry would:

  • Raise the top weight of big rigs, including cargo, from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds.
  • Give states the ability to lower the minimum age of 21 for interstate truck drivers, putting drivers as young as 18 behind the wheel.
  • Effectively eliminate a requirement that truckers who work long weeks spend two consecutive nights resting before heading back on the road.
  • Halt efforts to revise 30-year-old minimum requirements for insurance for big rigs.
  • Remove safety ratings of trucking firms from the Internet, where they are now available for public inspection.

Sean-McNally---quoteboxIt’s unclear if all, or any, of the proposals will be approved, but several have passed out of the House or Senate as parts of larger appropriations or authorization bills.

What is clear is that the measures have gained traction after concentrated campaign giving by the trucking industry. Since the beginning of 2009, trucking interests — including Federal Express, UPS and the American Trucking Associations — have spent more than $19.6 million on campaign contributions to members of Congress, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

More than 70 percent of that money went to Republicans.

Trucking interests also spent more than $181 million on lobbying over that period, with FedEx alone accounting for $98 million.

Said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “We have special trucking interests pushing legislation that will result in overweight, oversized trucks being driven by overworked, underage truck drivers that are inadequately insured. All this with the backdrop of truck crash deaths and injuries climbing significantly and steadily.”

The trucking industry is divided over some of the proposals. For example, Federal Express and UPS want twin 33-foot trailers to be approved, but small, independent operators oppose the measure because it would require them to purchase new equipment. The rail industry, a competitor of the trucking industry, also opposes some of the proposals.

“We believe that if the [proposals] come to pass that they will improve, not degrade, safety,” said Sean McNally, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, which formally supports many, but not all, of the proposals before Congress. “Our member carriers are strong on safety,” he said.

Longer trucks, less rest?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the branch of the Transportation Department that regulates truck safety, declined to comment on the proposals before Congress. The trucking industry claims the proposals have been vetted, pointing largely to studies funded by the industry itself.

Jackie-Gillan-quoteCritics, however, say the proposals have not been subjected to review by impartial experts. They say steamrolling looser restrictions through Congress, with heavy lobbying and contributions, is not the way to regulate public safety. More than one safety advocate compares the struggle to “David versus Goliath.”

“It would be almost easy to give up,” said Kim Telep of Harrisburg, Penn. She said she became a safety advocate after her husband, Brad, was struck and killed by a big rig on the New Jersey turnpike in 2012. Telep says she’s tried lobbying Congress for tougher truck safety laws, but got a chilly response. “Sometimes they sit there with this blank stare on their face. And I’m like, ‘Have you no empathy?’ ” she said.

Telep’s state, Pennsylvania, is home to Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over road safety. Shuster has taken more than $335,000 from trucking interests since the beginning of 2009.

In June, he voted for a massive transportation, housing and urban development appropriations bill that includes several of the trucking industry’s proposals. That transportation appropriations bill contains the proposals to allow longer trucks, eliminate the two-night rest period and scuttle a study that could lead to higher big rig insurance rates. Through an aide, Shuster declined to comment.

top-recipientsThirty-nine states prohibit trucks from hauling double 33-foot trailers. The legislation would preempt those state bans on double 33s, permitting trucks of that length to travel across the country.

“It would eliminate the number of truck trips by about 6.6 million and eliminate miles traveled by 1.3 billion,” said McNally of the American Trucking Associations. “And trips not taken, miles not traveled, means crashes not had,” he added. He put the number of truck crashes likely to be eliminated at 900 a year. McNally’s figures came from research by the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking, an organization of nine major trucking firms, including FedEx and UPS, pushing authorization of double 33s nationwide.

Critics say authorizing bigger or heavier trucks has never resulted in fewer trucks on the road and there’s no reason to believe that will happen now, especially with the popularity of direct shipping through services like Amazon.

The same House transportation appropriations bill also would effectively kill a requirement that truckers take two consecutive nights to rest after long work weeks. Federal law requires that a trucker who works 60 hours in seven days, or 70 hours in eight days, rest for a minimum of 34 consecutive hours before going back to work.

Congress in 2014 already temporarily suspended a provision in the rest requirement that assured drivers of getting time off two nights in a row. The appropriations bill would require a study validating the need for the two nights of rest rule before it could be restored. Critics say the requirements for the study are tougher than before and could be impossible to achieve.

Truck safety advocates say the net effect of removing the two-night rest period is to lengthen a trucker’s maximum weekly work from 70 hours to 82, interfering with drivers’ ability to get a quality sleep. Industry supporters say it’s virtually impossible for drivers to work 82 hours under these rules.

The measure approved by Congress that suspended the two-night rest period was introduced in 2014 by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The senator, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, also voted for a version of the appropriations bill that would impose toughened requirements before the suspension can be lifted.

Collins, who has accepted more than $70,000 from the trucking industry since the beginning of 2009, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“We’re very dismayed by her. She’s been on trucking’s side for a while,” said Daphne Izer of Lisbon, Maine. In 1993, Izer said her son, who was a senior in high school, and three of his friends were killed when a trucker who had fallen asleep at the wheel smashed into the car they were in.

Another appropriations provision could lead to a cutoff in funding for federal efforts to increase minimum insurance requirements for big rigs.

Since 1985, large trucks have been required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. Safety advocates say it is no longer high enough. However, Scott Grenerth, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the costs associated with most truck crashes are actually less than $750,000 while most insurance companies already require trucks to carry liability insurance of $1 million. As a result, the association argues, there is no need to raise the minimum.

Younger drivers

Tucked into a separate transportation authorization bill, already approved by the Senate, is the pilot program to lower the minimum age of interstate truckers. Current federal rules prohibit truckers under the age of 21 from driving big rigs across state lines. However, 49 states allow truck drivers as young as 18 to operate big rigs within their state borders, even though research shows that young truck drivers have more fatal crashes than more experienced drivers.

Lisa Shrum

Republican U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has proposed a six-year pilot program that would allow states that border each other to form voluntary compacts permitting truckers as young as 18 to drive from one state to the other. Fischer, who has taken more than $96,000 from trucking interests since the beginning of 2011, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The trucking industry says this proposal is critical because it is facing a shortage of drivers, and many young people who might want to become professional drivers can’t wait until age 21 to start their careers. Safety advocates, however, say the proposal is courting danger.

“My son at 18, I don’t think he would have been mature enough to drive a truck,” said Dorothy Wert of Montrose, Penn. “It’s not as easy as people think driving those big trucks,” Wert said.

Wert says her husband, David, was a truck driver for 35 years. Early one morning in May 2011, she explained, her husband was driving down a dark highway. Up ahead, an inexperienced truck driver had broken down, leaving his truck in the middle of the road, with no warning signals or flares. Dorothy Wert said her husband, driving 65 miles per hour, didn’t see the other truck until the last moment. He swerved, but hit his gas tank on the other truck, igniting his rig on fire.

When he was pulled from the wreckage, David Wert had lost his feet and his skin was severely burned from the neck down. He later died.

‘I feel betrayed’

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri voted for the two major bills containing trucking provisions to authorize longer trucks, eliminate the two-night rest period, stop the insurance study and permit younger drivers.

Since the beginning of 2009, he has accepted more than $229,000 in campaign contributions from the trucking industry. But he also took an interest in the story of Lisa Shrum, a Fayette, Mo., resident who says she lost her mother and stepfather in a crash involving a FedEx truck in 2006.

Roy Blunt

Shrum says she visited the Capitol twice this summer and on both occasions had brief conversations with Blunt about the accident and her opposition to the proposals pushed by trucking firms. During the second conversation, she says, the senator asked her to stop by his office to discuss the matter further. Shortly thereafter, on that very same day, she says Blunt voted for one of the bills containing trucking provisions.

“I feel betrayed,” Shrum says she told a Blunt aide when she went to his office later. “It makes me wonder, if I had $500,000 to throw at him what would he do?”

Blunt did not respond to requests for comment.

Congress has yet to act on other trucking bills. In March, Republican Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania introduced a bill to remove truck safety ratings from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. In September, Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin introduced a bill to increase the maximum allowable weight of trucks from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, provided the heavier trucks have a sixth axle and that states also authorize their use.

Since the beginning of 2009, Barletta and Ribble have accepted campaign donations from the trucking industry totaling more than $52,000 and $122,000, respectively.

Barletta said in a statement that he introduced his bill because “the safety scores are flawed.” His position was backed up at least partly by the Government Accountability Office. The scores are calculated using data collected from roadside inspections and crash investigations, but the GAO discovered that most carriers’ vehicles are inspected infrequently, yielding too little information to produce reliable scores. The scores are available at

top-donorsTruck safety advocates, however, say if the scores need to be fixed, they should be fixed while they’re still online. They say they’re afraid if the scores are taken down, it will be impossible to put new ones up later.

Ribble, meanwhile, said in a statement that he introduced his bill to raise allowable weights for loaded trucks to 91,000 pounds because trucks have been forced “to leave dairy farms and paper mills in my district only partially full” to avoid exceeding current weight limits. He said his bill “would allow us to have fewer total trucks vying for space on crowded roads.”

John Runyan, executive director of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, which includes 200 shippers and other associations promoting Ribble’s bill, said the legislation will improve safety because the heavier trucks will have an extra axle and additional brakes.

In mid-October, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a $325 billion highway bill that includes proposals to take the safety scores off the Internet and permit truck drivers as young as 19½ years old to drive between states.

‘A sad state of affairs’

Officials from several states have urged Congress to reject these proposals.

In June, the Mississippi Transportation Commission passed a resolution opposing the push to preempt the state’s ban on double 33s, to extend truckers’ work weeks to 82 hours and to block higher insurance minimums for big rigs. Even so, four Republican Congressmen from Mississippi – Reps. Trent Kelly, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo, and Sen. Thad Cochran – voted for bills including those provisions. (Cochran originally voted against the amendment to authorize double 33s, but later voted in favor of the bill itself when it included that provision.)

top-lobbyistsCochran received more than $76,000 from the trucking industry since the beginning of 2009 while Palazzo got $10,000 and Harper, $8,000. Kelly, elected in June, has not received any money from the industry, according to the latest figures from the Center for Responsive Politics. Harper, through a spokesman, declined to comment, while Palazzo and Kelly didn’t respond to requests for comment. A Cochran aide said the appropriations bill included other elements “of interest to Mississippi and the nation” besides double 33s.

Also in June, two state senators in Pennsylvania wrote to all 20 members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to oppose an increase in federal limits on truck size and weight. Nine Pennsylvania representatives voted for an appropriations bill that authorized double 33s and nine voted against, while the state’s two senators have not yet had a chance to vote on the proposal.

In Illinois, state senators approved a resolution rejecting an increase in truck size and weight. But their Republican U.S. senator, Mark Kirk, cast a committee vote for an appropriations bill including a provision for double 33s. Kirk has taken more than $38,000 from the trucking industry since the beginning of 2009. Kirk didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Safety advocates say they’re afraid their message will be ignored. Said Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, Fla., the newly elected vice president of the Truck Safety Coalition: “It’s not looking good for safety people. I think most of this stuff is going to pass.”

Mathis said her 23-year-old son and his new wife were killed in a truck crash on their way home from their honeymoon in 2004. Mathis said the newlyweds were stopped in traffic on the freeway in Florida when a trucker fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended their car, which became pinned under the truck and exploded.

Mathis, a determined advocate for stronger safety standards, said that in the days after the crash, her home was filled with flowers from both her son’s wedding and funeral. She cries when she remembers visiting her son’s newly purchased home after the crash and finding her daughter-in-law’s wedding dress still laid out on the bed.

“We just have our stories and our facts, but we don’t have any money,” she says. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”

Article Link:

Truck Crash Survivor and Highway Safety Advocate Urges Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) to Give the Ax to Minnesota Overweight Log Trucks Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            Contact: Nancy Meuleners at
October 23, 2015

Truck Crash Survivor and Highway Safety Advocate Urges Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) to
Give the Ax to Minnesota Overweight Log Trucks Amendment

House Committee Transportation Bill Already Rife With Dangerous Trucking Provisions
as U.S. Traffic Deaths are on the Rise in 2015

Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator, Truck Safety Coalition

(BLOOMINGTON, M.N.) After joining truck crash survivors and family and friends of truck crash victims to advocate for truck safety improvements on Capitol Hill this week, it was shocking to learn that a dangerous trucking provision is being pushed for my home state. I urge Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) to drop his amendment and halt his pursuit of 99,000 lbs. log trucks on a section of Minnesota I-35 when the U.S. House of Representatives takes up consideration of its transportation bill, The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (STRR), H.R. 3763. Right now, Rep. Nolan’s amendment is on hold. Meanwhile, it appears that there will be numerous back room deals cut to benefit special trucking interests before the bill comes up for a floor vote, which could happen as early as next week and this could be one of them.

A life-long Minnesotan, I survived a horrific truck crash that left me permanently disfigured. As a result of my own experience, as well as those of my fellow truck safety advocates, I know first-hand about the dangers of sharing roadways with trucks and about the increase in risks and damages when those trucks are bigger and heavier. I urge Congressman Nolan to reconsider his actions. While his amendment is touted to improve safety by removing behemoth log and pulp trucks from Duluth’s local roads, it will instead expand their range to I-35. There is nothing to prevent them from continuing to drive down main streets.

In Minnesota truck crash fatalities increased the last two years according to data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); a 15 percent increase from 2011 to 2012, and 25 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. Seventy five Minnesotans were needlessly killed in large truck crashes in 2013, ensuring a lifetime of grief for their families and friends.

Truck crashes impose enormous economic costs on society; the annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $103 billion. I have undergone nearly 40 surgeries to repair major injuries after my truck crash. I can personally attest to the economic burden of large medical costs and loss of income that Minnesota families bear when a truck crash occurs. Congressman Nolan’s amendment to increase the range for overweight log trucks in Minnesota is not a safety solution but a safety setback for our families.

My fellow truck safety advocates and I stand together in calling on Members of the Minnesota congressional delegation to put the safety of our loved ones first and not special trucking interests. Rather than offering dangerous amendments we hope that Rep. Nolan will work to continue the legislative legacy of former Rep. Jim Oberstar who championed highway and truck safety. We urge him to work to strip anti-truck safety provisions from the STRR that will permit teen truckers to drive across the country, hide the safety scores of unsafe truck and bus companies, hinder the DOT from increasing minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers, stall safety rulemaking by imposing unnecessary burdens, and permit the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to extend its deadlines on long overdue safety rules.

Additionally, we adamantly oppose any provisions in the bill to increase truck size and weight limits at home in Minnesota or nationwide. The recent U.S. DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study concluded there is a “profound” lack of data from which to quantify the safety impact of larger or heavier trucks and consequently recommends that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations be considered until data limitations are overcome.

We are not alone in our concerns. Public opinion is with us. By overwhelming margins in numerous public opinion polls over the last 20 years, the American public consistently and convincingly rejects sharing the road with bigger, heavier and longer trucks. The most recent poll in January 2015 by Harper Polling revealed that 76% of respondents oppose longer and heavier trucks on the highways and 79% are very or somewhat convinced that heavier and longer trucks will lead to more braking problems and longer stopping distances, causing an increase in the number of crashes involving trucks.

Every year on average, 4,000 people are killed nationally in truck-involved crashes and 100,000 are injured. We cannot continue to ignore these intolerable losses and injuries. A national surface transportation authorization bill should not be a legislative vehicle to pass special interest provisions that would never be supported by the public or pass scrutiny. Yet, this bill is chock-full of truck safety rollbacks that throw the safety agenda into reverse and further endanger everyone on the roads. I urge Congressman Nolan to work with us and seek sensible safety solutions to this public health and safety epidemic.


Nancy Meuleners Statement Opposing Nolan Amendment


Contact: Beth Weaver | 301.814.4088,


Truck Safety Advocates Oppose Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC (September 11, 2015) – U.S. Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI) plans to introduce a bill to increase the federal weight limit for large trucks from 80,000-lbs to 91,000-lbs. that is in direct opposition to the results of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study recently conducted for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT study released earlier this year concluded that there should be no increase to truck size and weight due to a lack of data.

The Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act, sponsored by Congressman Ribble, will increase the truck weight limit on Interstate Highways from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, which will violate the 1975 Bridge Formula while ignoring infrastructure needs and a climbing highway death toll. Furthermore, the bill relies upon industry-funded junk science to justify the weight increase.

Dawn King, President of the Truck Safety Coalition, has been advocating for truck safety since her father, Bill Badger, was killed by a tired trucker who slammed his truck into her dad’s car. “Now is not the time to increase the weight limit of trucks, especially in Representative Ribble’s home state of Wisconsin. He should be focusing on the truth, like the fact that between 2009 and 2013, total fatalities in all crashes in Wisconsin have decreased by 3.2 percent, while large truck crash fatalities have increased by 50.9 percent; or that during this time 330 Wisconsinites were killed in large truck crashes. Instead, he is more concerned with much different figures – the profits of trucking companies. It is unfortunate that his bill prioritizes profits above the safety of the people he represents.”

The Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act will result in further damage to America’s infrastructure and will jeopardize the safety of the American public. Adding an extra axle to a 91,000-pound truck will not mitigate the increased wear and tear these heavier trucks will cause to America’s crumbling bridges. For example, increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 10 percent increases bridge damage by 33 percent. The claims that this weight increase will result in fewer trucks that are just as safe as current 80,000-pound trucks are false. Increases in truck size and weight over more than 35 years have never resulted in fewer trucks on American roads. Additionally, The DOT has found that six-axle configurations have higher crash rates than five-axle trucks. The DOT’s study determined that 91,000 pound trucks had a 47 percent higher crash rate than the standard 80,000 pound trucks in Washington State, which was the only state with available data on the proposed, heavier truck configuration.

“As a law enforcement professional, I have seen too many times when a truck and car collide. I have yet to see the car win,” said Stoughton Police Chief Greg Leck, who is also the Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police. “If we make trucks heavier, I do not see this situation improving. At a time when cars are becoming smaller, we do not need bigger trucks. Our job is to protect those who travel our roads and our goal is to have motorists arrive at their destinations safely. I do not believe heavier or longer trucks ultimately help us reach our goal.”


Jennifer Tierney Letter to the Editor: Bill should focus on safety

It has been more than 30 years since my father, James Mooney, was killed in a large truck crash. He was driving on a dark rural road at a time when truck conspicuity was barely a consideration. I see too many crashes, like the one that occurred in Pierce County, Nebraska, this past June, in which the truck driver rear-ended a stationary vehicle, which constantly reminds me of the dangers posed by large trucks and underscores legislators’ inaction to improve truck safety.

The recently passed long-term Senate highway bill is a step back, and the greatest assault to public safety on our roads since losing my father (“Work together on roads, U.S. transportation chief says in Nebraska,” Aug. 12). While I support a “robust freight policy,” it should not come at the expense of more deaths and injuries. Provisions in the bill, like allowing 18- to 20-year-old interstate [truck] drivers and permitting greater exemptions to hours-of-service requirements do not advance public safety. Actual safety advances, like mandating forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking systems on all large trucks, should be a key component in the re-authorization bill.

The current Senate legislation does not reflect a consideration for safety, nor a consideration for families. Lawmakers should realize the lasting effects of a six-year surface transportation re-authorization bill and engage in a thoughtful deliberation about a “robust” safety title.

Jennifer Tierney, Kernersville, N.C

Link to Article:

NY Times Op-Ed The Trucks Are Killing Us


ACCIDENTS like the one that critically injured the comedian Tracy Morgan, killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, and hurt eight others on the New Jersey Turnpike last year are going to continue to happen unless Congress stops coddling the trucking industry.

More people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years, if past trends hold true. And still Congress continues to do the trucking industry’s bidding by frustrating the very regulators the government has empowered to oversee motor carriers.

In recent months, Congress has pursued a number of steps to roll back safety improvements ordered by federal regulators. It has pushed to allow truck drivers to work 82 hours a week, up from the current 70 hours over eight days, by suspending a rule that drivers take a 34-hour rest break over two nights in order to restart their work week; discouraged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from investing in wireless technology designed to improve the monitoring of drivers and their vehicles; and signaled its willingness to allow longer and heavier trucks despite widespread public opposition. Congress also wants to lower the minimum age for drivers of large trucks that are allowed to travel from state to state to 18, from 21.

All of these concessions to the trucking industry have gained traction in Congress even though the industry has consistently resisted safety improvements. The death toll in truck-involved crashes rose 17 percent from 2009 to 2013. Fatalities in truck-involved crashes have risen four years in a row, reaching 3,964 in 2013, the latest data available. Those crashes are killing not only car drivers but also, during 2013 alone, 586 people who were truck drivers or passengers.

And while a more than 3 percent drop in car deaths over the same period was largely accomplished by technological improvements like airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, the trucking industry has resisted most of those safety devices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost to the economy of truck and bus crashes to be $99 billion.

A number of changes that will inevitably make us all less safe are tucked into the pending highway bill, currently stalled because of differences between the House and Senate versions. In fact, Congress has failed to adopt a comprehensive highway funding bill for years, relying instead on dozens of temporary extensions since 2009 to keep any semblance of a federal road construction program moving. In July, the House and Senate passed another temporary patch, good through the end of October.

The crash involving Tracy Morgan shows why Congress needs to toughen its oversight of trucking, not loosen it. The driver who caused the crash was in a modern 18-wheeler that was well maintained and managed, owned and operated by Walmart. As detailed in the causation report on the crash released earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the driver had been on duty for about 13 and a half hours; federal rules allow a 14-hour workday. About a mile before the crash, the driver ignored work-zone warning signs on the New Jersey Turnpike of likely delays ahead. About a half-mile later, the posted speed limit dropped to 45 m.p.h. from the usual 65, which the driver also ignored.

Mr. Morgan’s Mercedes van was moving at less than 10 m.p.h. because of the construction. The truck driver, fatigued and slow to react, according to the N.T.S.B., was unable to stop in time, and slammed into the van, turning it on its side and jamming the passenger door closed. According to the board, if the driver had slowed to 45 when warned to do so, he should have been able to stop before crashing. But before his official work day began, the driver, the board found, had spent 12 hours driving his own vehicle from his home in Georgia to pick up his truck at a Walmart facility in Delaware, and had been awake for 28 consecutive hours at the time of the crash.

Large trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. While heavy trucks accounted for less than 10 percent of total miles traveled in the United States during 2013, according to federal data, the N.T.S.B. recently reported that they were involved in one in eight of all fatal accidents and about one-quarter of all fatal accidents in work zones, like the crash that injured Mr. Morgan.

Many accidents involve trucks rear-ending vehicles that have stopped or slowed because of accidents or roadwork. Technology to prevent or lessen the impact of such crashes is available from all of the manufacturers of heavy trucks in North America. Yet only about 3 percent of the Class 8 trucks — the heaviest ones, including most tractor-trailers — are equipped with any version of this collision-avoidance technology, according to safety advocates.

Most automakers now include or offer anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, airbags and collision-avoidance devices in their vehicles, and the technology is included in many of the heavy trucks sold in Europe. But the United States trucking industry has largely avoided using the safety technologies available for vehicles sold here, because of their cost.

The truck that injured Mr. Morgan was one of the few tractor-trailers that had a collision-detection system. But the N.T.S.B. was unable to prove that the system issued a warning to the driver. The board said it could not fully assess the performance of the device because the unit does not store enough system performance data. (The board has suggested all safety-system makers should ensure that their products store more data in the future.)

The trucking industry, through its chief trade group, the American Trucking Associations, insists that it needs longer work weeks and bigger vehicles so that more trucks will not be needed on the road, which it says could result in more accidents. That logic is laughable, but Congress seems to be buying it.

The industry also bases its opposition to safety-rule changes on money, saying that increasing costs will hurt profits and raise rates for shippers and, ultimately, consumers.

Higher safety standards and shorter work weeks may increase freight costs, but some of those standards should save carriers money in the long run through lower insurance rates and damage claims. And since trucking generates more than $700 billion a year in revenue, according to the trucking association, a small increase in safety costs would not put a large financial strain on carriers.

The trucking industry is vital to the nation’s economic well-being — it carried almost 69 percent of all domestic freight last year — and its executives have done an excellent job in keeping costs down. But Congress must make it clear to all parties that safety has to be a higher priority than penny-pinching.

Congress must pass a comprehensive highway funding bill and ensure that safety regulators have sufficient resources and political support to do what must be done in order to reduce the continuing carnage on our highways.

Correction: August 26, 2015

An Op-Ed article on Friday about trucking incorrectly described a recent change to a federal regulation. To restart their workweek week, drivers must take a rest break of 34 hours; Congress suspended a requirement that the 34 hours include two consecutive early morning periods. (There was no rule requiring drivers to take a two-day rest break each week.)

Link to Article:

Kim Telep Letter to the Editor

Federal studies affirm dangers of longer truck trailers | Letter

I am writing in response to Mark Rosenker’s July 28 letter, “Longer truck trailers have a good safety record.”  Nearly three years ago my husband Brad, a truck driver, was killed by a fatigued truck driver who swerved off the road and struck Brad while he was standing on the shoulder. Sadly, this crash is not unique. All too often I read about a construction worker hit by a semi in a work zone, or a family crushed in their minivan simply because the truck driver did not apply the brakes soon enough.

Yet some people in Washington believe it’s time to increase the length of double tractor trailers, from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet. Proponents of the increase rely on one study — industry-funded junk science that claims these longer trucks to be safer. That is false.

In 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board highlighted regulators’ failure to implement more than 100 recommendations to improve truck safety, something the NTSB has long considered a top priority. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended no increases in truck size, citing insufficient data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s truck size and weight study.

The study did however, affirm the dangers of longer trucks. The length increase would result in a six-foot-wider turning radius and an additional stopping distance of 22 feet. The wider turning radius could be the difference between life and death for a bicyclist next to a truck. The stopping distance of 22 feet could be the difference in a family getting home.

These differences could be what prompts yet another wife or mother to write a letter to the editor on truck safety.

Kim Telep

Link to Article:

Op-Ed: Federal transportation bill shouldn’t sacrifice public highway safety

By Roy Crawford – August 19, 2015

Whenever I read about a fatal large-truck crash, my heart goes out to the families of those whose lives were ended too soon.

I know what they are going through. More than 20 years ago my son Guy was killed in a crash with a grossly overloaded coal truck. This is why crashes like the chain-reaction crash in May on Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County, which killed two young men, hit especially close to home.

As an engineer I acknowledge the need to improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure. As a father and a forensic engineer who has reconstructed many fatal truck crashes, however, I cannot justify the safety sacrifices in the Senate’s long-term highway bill.

For instance, the provision that allows 18-to-20-year-old interstate truck drivers may please several motor carriers, but it deprives Kentuckians of the safety we are entitled to on our roads.

This should be especially concerning given the fact that WKYT found that the number of truck crashes involving out of state drivers is rising in Kentucky, spiking from 25 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2013.

Additionally, the U.S. Senate highway and transportation bill contains language that would make it easier for groups of motor carriers to acquire exemptions from hours of service requirements, while at the same time making it more difficult for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to engage in rule-making on critical safety regulations.

The current Senate bill forsakes several clear opportunities to enhance safety. Legislators should use this opportunity to craft a strong safety title that requires large trucks to be equipped with lifesaving technologies, like forward collision and mitigation braking systems and improved rear underride guards. Mandating these measures would reduce crashes and the severity of crashes that do occur.

I agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was key to negotiating the transportation bill, that with a long-term highway bill “we can rebuild our infrastructure… and improve traffic safety for Kentuckians.” Yet, the DRIVE Act fails to accomplish this dual goal.

It is vital that lawmakers go back to the drawing board and include meaningful safety reforms and remove dangerous rollbacks before enacting a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

Link to Op-Ed:

USA Today Op-Ed: The road to hell is paved with congressional legislation

By Joan Claybrook

Imagine that U.S. airlines had suffered four crashes in four weeks, killing a total of 330 people. Congress would be panicking, holding hearings to demand explanations and find a fix. Passengers would be cancelling flights, and the airlines would be scrambling to increase aircraft inspections and scrutinize pilot qualifications.

Thankfully, of course, this hasn’t happened. But on highways across the country, large truck crashes continue their mayhem, one crash at a time, community by community. Officials and trucking companies pay little heed — it’s business as usual. Some 330 people are being killed each month and nearly 8,000 are suffering excruciating injuries in accidents involving trucks. Truckers aren’t always to blame, but the National Transportation Safety Board says as many as one-third of these crashes involve tired truckers. On Capitol Hill, congressional leaders don’t seem concerned. In fact, Congress is listening to trucking industry lobbyists pressing for larger trucks to carry more cargo and further undercut safety on the nation’s highways, as well as degrade bridges and roadways.


Why the difference? From the beginning of air travel, America made a commitment to have safe skies.  But not so for trucks. Truck safety standards have been delayed for decades under pressure from trucking companies.  And right now on Capitol Hill, Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are proposing to increase the size of trucks. Their plan would pre-empt the laws of 39 states, forcing them to allow double and triple trailers of trucks that are 33 feet long rather than the current maximum in those states of 28 feet.  The new combinations would be 84 feet to 120 feet long — like trains on our highways.

Key highway legislation is scheduled to be considered this week on the Senate floor. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., want to have the Department of Transportation evaluate these longer trucks instead of recklessly allowing Congress to mandate them.

Senators pushing bigger trucks know that truck crash fatalities have increased 17% and injuries 28% in the past four years.  They know that more than 75% of the public oppose larger trucks and longer working and driving hours for truck drivers (who now can be required to drive and work up to 82 hours a week).  But they work hand in glove with trucking lobbyists and hope their constituents aren’t looking.

Trucking companies, particularly FedEx and UPS, give large amounts of campaign money to Congress and spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying. Unless individual citizens who pay the price with their lives and wallets call their senators demanding they vote for safer trucks, not bigger trucks, even the current opposition of the White House won’t be enough to stop this dangerous legislation.  Let’s make highway safety our first goal.

Joan Claybrook is the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and president emeritus of Public Citizen.

Link to Article:

New York Times Editorial: A Senate Bill That Makes Roads and Railroads Less Safe

Last month the House passed an appropriations bill that would put bigger trucks with overworked drivers behind the wheel on the nation’s highways. If that weren’t irresponsible enough, the Senate is now considering legislation that would allow trucking companies to hire 18-year-old drivers for interstate routes and undermine safety on roads and railroads in numerous other ways.

Even by the low standards of the current Congress, these bills are egregious examples of faithfully saying yes to everything industry wants, in this case the transportation companies. The Senate is expected to take up its disingenuously named Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 this week as part of a larger transportation package that reauthorizes federal agencies and programs.

One of the measure’s worst provisions would lower the minimum age for interstate truck drivers to 18, from 21, in a misguided attempt to help the industry recruit more drivers. (Most states allow people as young as 18 to drive trucks within state limits.) Studies show that teenage and young adult drivers are much more likely to be involved in accidents than other adults. It would be foolish to allow these inexperienced drivers to drive long distances in large, heavy trucks. A far better way to address a shortage of drivers would be for the industry to raise wages and improve working conditions.

Another provision would eviscerate federal rules on how much rest truckers must get. Companies would be allowed to seek temporary or permanent exceptions from the Department of Transportation’s rules governing hours of driving. Those regulations are already quite lenient because they allow truckers to drive up to 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days before getting at least 34 hours of rest. The House voted in June to postpone those rules pending another study.

The Senate bill would also forbid the department to publish safety ratings of trucking and bus companies, which it currently does on a website. The legislation would also make it much harder for the department to increase the minimum insurance requirements for trucks and buses that were last set in 1985.

That’s not all. The bill would delay an end-of-year deadline for railroads to install positive-train control technology to help prevent accidents like the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May that killed eight people and injured more than 200. It would also delay a federal rule that requires trains carrying crude oil to have brakes that can stop all cars at the same time, rather than sequentially.

The Senate bill also falls well short of addressing important issues raised by recent scandals involving defects in General Motors’ ignition switches and Takata airbags. While it would raise the maximum fine that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can levy against automakers that do not promptly disclose defects to $70 million from $35 million, that increase is a pittance for companies that make billions in profits. And by not proposing criminal liability for executives who knowingly hide the life-threatening dangers of their products, the bill simply sidesteps the issue of individual accountability.

During hearings about auto defects in recent months, lawmakers from both parties spoke forcefully about safety failures and the need to make driving less dangerous. This legislation does not come close to matching their words. Unless this bill is fixed on the Senate floor, it will lead to more accidents, deaths and injuries on American roads.

Link to Article:

Collision Course: With Wary Eye on Big Trucks, Bike Riders Seek Safe Space on City Streets

By Bridget Huber on June 30, 2015

On a July afternoon in New Orleans last year, Philip Geeck was riding his bicycle in a marked bike lane on a busy street. Approaching an intersection, he came up alongside a tractor-trailer truck hauling a tank of chemicals. Geeck, 52, was at the 18-wheeler’s midpoint when suddenly, without signaling, the truck began to turn right, witnesses say.

Victor Pizarro was driving nearby and watched in horror as the scene unfolded. He saw a look of confusion on Geeck’s face as the trailer came toward him. Geeck, an experienced cyclist known to his friends as “Geric,” tried to get away from the truck but couldn’t make it. First his wheel went beneath the semi’s enormous rolling tires, then his foot, then his entire body was dragged under. “It just kind of sucked him in,” Pizarro said in an interview.

Geeck’s head was crushed and part of his leg was severed from his body. “He was just a mound of flesh on the ground with blood oozing out,” Pizarro said. Geeck died at the scene; the truck driver was not cited by police.

Heavy trucks like 18-wheelers and box trucks, along with garbage and dump trucks, make up a fraction of the vehicles on the road, but they are involved in a disproportionate share of accidents that kill bicyclists and pedestrians, according to federal data. The problem is worst in cities, where most bike and pedestrian fatalities occur.

In New York City, for example, trucks account for 3.6 percent of vehicles, but were involved in 32 percent of crashes that killed bicyclists from 1996 to 2003 and 12.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities from 2002 through 2006, city statistics show.

chartSome safety advocates say the problem could get worse: The rise of e-commerce is bringing more trucks into urban neighborhoods at the same time that cities are encouraging cycling and walking, through bicycle sharing programs, bike lanes and other infrastructure improvements. “It could be a collision course,” said Alex Epstein an engineer at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, a federal research institution in Cambridge, Mass. “You have more trucks in cities, more urban freight, at the same time that you have more bicycling and walking.”

Safety advocates would like to see a range of reforms: Better training for drivers, restrictions on the size of trucks allowed on busy thoroughfares, better-designed streets, more federal funds for bike and pedestrian safety and tougher penalties for drivers who kill bicyclists and pedestrians. Meanwhile, there’s also a small but growing movement in U.S. cities to adopt a simple truck retrofit — one already in use in much of the world — that could immediately save lives.

In about half of the fatal bike and truck accidents and a quarter of those involving pedestrians and trucks, the person who is killed first makes impact with the side of the vehicle, according to the Volpe center, typically because the vehicle is turning or something like a car door sends a cyclist into the side of the truck. In those cases, a person’s body can fall under the truck, and into the path of the truck’s rear wheels, with catastrophic consequences.

But truck side guards — a panel or set of metal bars running between the two sets of wheels — can keep people from falling under the wheels. Instead, they bounce off the side of the truck. Side guards are a line of last defense for a cyclist or pedestrian, one some advocates liken to a seatbelt. “The intention is to take something that would be a fatality and turn it into an injury,” said Kris Carter, the director of programming in the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in Boston, where an ordinance requiring side guards on many large city-owned and city-contracted trucks took effect in May.

Side guards could have played a role in accidents like these:


–In May, 31-year-old Maria Crozier and her husband were celebrating their first wedding anniversary with a trip to California’s Napa Valley. They were riding bikes in downtown St. Helena when Crozier hit the side of a box truck and fell beneath its wheels, where she was run over and killed, police said.

–In August 2014, 31-year-old Sher Kung was riding in a bike lane in Seattle when, police said, a box truck turned into her and killed her. She was a new mother and a successful attorney who was part of the American Civil Liberties Union legal team that overturned the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the armed forces.

–That same month, 18-year-old Jesus Frias was riding home from the gym in Boynton Beach, Fla., when a garbage truck turned right in front of him. He hit the truck’s side and was pulled under the wheels and pronounced dead at the scene, his family’s lawyers say.

–In Boston in April 2014, 34-year old Owen McGrory collided with a garbage truck that turned in front of him as he rode his bike to work. McGrory fell beneath the truck and was run over by its rear wheels, his family’s lawyer said. The driver never stopped, telling police he thought he had hit a pothole, according to media accounts (here and here.).

While federal regulators do not require the use of truck side guards, local efforts are gaining traction. In addition to Boston’s law — passed in response to a spate of bicyclist deaths, including McGrory’s — Cambridge just passed similar legislation and New York City is equipping about 200 city trucks with the guards and passed a law last week that will require them on most large city trucks and privately owned garbage trucks operating in the city by 2024. The guards are also required on many city-owned trucks in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore. The University of Washington in May announced plans to equip its own truck fleet with the guards.

cyclist-aerial2The American Trucking Associations, the industry’s national trade group, has no official position on truck side guards but is “always concerned about truck safety,” said Ted Scott, the group’s director of engineering.

Most of the research on side guards’ safety benefits has come from Europe, Scott said, where bicycling is much more common. He said more data needs to be collected in the U.S. to see how effective the guards are. “Maybe it mitigates the damage. Maybe it just kills you differently,” he said. “We don’t know.”

But Epstein says the time to act is now.

“To me, it seems like a very efficient engineering solution that we can take almost immediately,” said Epstein, who has worked with the cities of Boston and New York on the issue. “If you talk about low-hanging fruit, this is it.”

Side guards save lives

From the bike lanes of Oklahoma City, to Los Angeles’ expanding transit system, to New York City’s High Line walking trail and hordes of bright blue Citi Bikes, American cities are becoming less car-centric. Cities and towns are instituting policies that aim to encourage biking and walking, which have been promoted as a way to combat obesity and global warming.

The result: Americans are driving less. The number of miles driven per capita has been falling for about a decade, according an analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration. At the same time, the number of Americans walking for transportation has inched up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and bike commuting has become much more popular. The number of Americans who commute by bike rose 62 percent between 2000 and 2013, according to an evaluation of census data by the League of American Bicyclists.

The available fatality figures give an incomplete picture because safety agencies don’t collect data on how many accidents occur per mile walked or biked. Yet what’s clear is that while fewer motorists are dying, the death tolls for pedestrians and bicyclists have held relatively steady over the last decade, so they now account for a bigger share of overall traffic deaths. “We need to do something to improve our performance there,” said Rob Molloy, acting director of the office of highway safety at the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB.

From 2004 through 2013, cyclist deaths hovered between 623 and 786, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. The figures for pedestrian deaths ranged from 4,109 to 4,892.

Even in cities with strong biking cultures like Copenhagen, crashes between trucks and bicyclists are a stubborn problem, said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists.

“I don’t believe for a second that truck drivers are out to get me,” he said. “The laws of physics and the challenges of driving a truck compared to the joys of riding a bike are not always compatible. That’s just a fact of life.”

Scott said he didn’t know of any training for truck drivers that specifically focuses on pedestrian and bicyclist safety. However, he said, drivers of large trucks have to earn commercial drivers’ licenses, which require learning how make turns safely.

He also said the onus isn’t only on truckers: “The other part of this question is what sort of training is being given to the bicyclist or the pedestrian.”

Statistics from the United Kingdom suggest putting side guards on trucks could reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities. In the 1980s, the U.K. adopted a national policy requiring side guards on all large trucks. Fatal side-impact collisions between bicyclists and trucks dropped 61 percent and those between pedestrians and trucks fell 20 percent. The side guards are mandatory in the European Union, Brazil, Japan and China, according to the Volpe center.

The side guards used in Boston cost about $1,200 to $1,800 each, according to city figures, though the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the price could be less than $1,000, depending on the design. And, there’s a even a positive side effect: If properly designed, side guards can increase fuel efficiency because they reduce air drag. Indeed, some long-haul trucks are now using side skirts to this end.

In July, Boston’s side guards were put to a test when a city-contracted garbage truck turned in front of a bicyclist, who hit its side. But the man did not slip under the truck and into the unforgiving path of the truck tires, likely because the truck was equipped with the guards as a part of a pilot project that led to the city’s ordinance. The accident was still serious — the cyclist’s leg was stuck under the truck and had to be freed using special equipment. But the cyclist survived, and city councilors approved Boston’s side guard ordinance unanimously three months later.

A call for federal action

While safety advocates are glad to see cities adopting side guards, the approach is piecemeal. Even the most far-reaching law — Boston’s — will reach only about 230 trucks, at most, in its first year, according to the mayor’s office. And even when New York City’s law is fully in place, eight years from now, most privately owned trucks will be exempt.

Some bicycle advocates call for a federal mandate, though that may a long time coming. In 2013 and 2014, the NTSB, which investigates accidents and makes safety recommendations but has no regulatory power, recommended that side guards be required on large trucks. The aim was to keep passenger vehicles from sliding under trucks, but it also would protect bicyclists and pedestrians, albeit with devices that would likely be stronger and much more costly than what is now being used in Boston and other cities. To protect cyclists and pedestrians specifically, NTSB recommended crash-avoidance measures like improved mirrors and pedestrian detection systems.

To date, though, federal regulators have taken no action on the NTSB’s recommendations.

Even without a federal mandate, trucking companies should step up, said Valerie Yarashus, a Boston lawyer who is part of a truck safety task force at the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers group. Yarashus currently has three cases involving fatal bike and truck crashes, including McGrory’s.

Scott, of the trucking industry trade group, says if convincing data emerges from the cities experimenting with side guards, the technology will likely be adopted. “If those things do make a difference, you will see individuals putting them on their vehicles. They don’t want to kill anybody either.”

And, as the evidence mounts that these guards save lives, Yarashus says it’s increasingly difficult to believe that trucking companies don’t know about their benefits.

“They have an opportunity now to see what’s going on in the rest of the world and start taking action in the U.S. to save lives before somebody mandates that they need to,” she said.

For now, however, the vast majority of trucks on the road are like the garbage truck that turned in front of McGrory in Boston in April 2014. McGrory, a newlywed, died at the scene. The truck’s driver will not face criminal charges, but McGrory’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

Yarashus said a side guard could have saved McGrory’s life. In a statement made through Yarashus, McGrory’s brother, Phillip said, his brother was a “happy soul” who was quick to help others. “His generous spirit and infectious laughter still make us smile when we think about him, but now it is bittersweet,” he said. “We all miss Owen every single day.”


Truck driver cited for careless driving one day before fatal I-75 crash

June 30th, 2015 by Shelly Bradbury

The truck driver involved in the nine-vehicle wreck on Interstate 75 was cited for careless driving in Florida on Wednesday — one day before officials say he plowed into several vehicles in a crash that killed six people in Chattanooga.

Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, sideswiped a truck while attempting to pass on June 24 in Wildwood, Fla., according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash report. Brewer’s truck struck the left bumper of the other truck, and both vehicles pulled to the shoulder of the two-lane road around 9:30 a.m.

Neither driver was hurt, according to the report, and both were wearing seatbelts. The road was not wet, Brewer was not distracted and his vision was not obscured, according to the report. He was issued a citation for careless driving and ordered to pay $166.

The same woman who was riding with Brewer when he crashed in Chattanooga was a passenger in the truck during the Florida wreck, according to the report. Chattanooga police have identified the woman as Brewer’s fiancee. She does not have a commercial driver’s license, Lt. Adrian Gibb said Monday.

After the accident on Wednesday, Brewer stopped to repair his truck in Ocala, Fla., before driving up to Chattanooga, Gibb said. Brewer, who drives for London, Ky., trucking company Cool Runnings Express Inc., had driven at least 400 miles before wrecking in Chattanooga, Gibb said.

He declined to say how many hours Brewer had been on the clock, citing the ongoing investigation. Both local agencies and a team of 11 people from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which killed two children and four adults.

It’s too early to say what caused Brewer to fail to stop, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said Monday. He said the NTSB team is still collecting evidence.

“At this point, they’re examining the vehicles involved, examining the area where the accident took place, looking at issues regarding work zone areas, driver performance, the crash-worthiness of the vehicle,” he said.

Part of that investigation includes collecting the crash data recorders from each vehicle, Gibb said. The recorders, which act much like a plane’s black box, can tell investigators details about each vehicle in the 30 seconds to a minute before the impact.

Crash recorders are installed only in newer cars, and the recorders in at least two of the vehicles from Thursday’s crash were too damaged to be useful, Gibb said. But intact recorders should be able to tell investigators crucial details, such as how fast each vehicle was going and whether the brakes were applied, Gibb said.

Police have not charged Brewer with any crimes and he has returned to Kentucky, Gibb said. Brewer will not be allowed to drive a truck until the investigation into the crash is closed.

And while the police investigation is focused on Brewer, federal records show that the company Brewer works for, Cool Runnings Express, has had problems with safety in the past.

On three occasions since 2013, roadside safety inspectors immediately shut down Cool Runnings Express’ trucks because of safety issues with the trucks’ brakes, according to federal records.

That means the trucks weren’t allowed back on the road until the problems were fixed, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Cool Runnings Express’ trucks were stopped for brake problems twice in August 2013 and once in June 2014, according to motor carrier safety administration records.

“These are random inspections that are done by the roadside usually at a truck stop or weigh station,” said Duane DeBruyne, spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “They are totally unannounced. If there is anything that is an imminent hazard, the inspector can place that vehicle out of service. Which means it is not moving until that defect is repaired.”

Cool Runnings Express’ trucks were also pulled from the road after failing two other random inspections — once for making false reports about the driver’s duty log in May 2014, and once when the driver had gone beyond the 14-hour duty limit in June 2014.

The truck involved in that 14-hour citation is the same vehicle that Brewer was driving when he wrecked in this week, state and federal records show. It’s unclear, however, whether Brewer was the driver who violated the 14-hour rule or whether another person was driving the truck at that time.

Cool Runnings Express owner Billy Sizemore declined to comment on the wreck on Monday. The company operates six trucks and employs nine drivers, according to the safety administration. Drivers haul meat, refrigerated food and fresh produce.

During the last 24 months, Cool Runnings Express failed three of eight vehicle inspections — 37 percent — and failed two of 14 driver inspections, or 14 percent, safety administration records show.

The national average for inspection failure rates among trucking companies is about 21 percent for vehicle inspections and 6 percent for driver inspections, according to the safety administration.

Chattanooga trucking company Covenant Transport failed 13 percent of its vehicle inspections during the last 24 months, according to the safety administration. Covenant, which has 1,592 trucks and 2,484 drivers, failed just .9 percent of its driver inspections in the same time period.


Press Release: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

Broad Coalition Says NO to Putting Corporate Profit before Public Safety; Crash Victims, Law Enforcement, Labor, and Safety Groups Urge Senators to Reject “Wish List” of Trucking Industry Interests


WASHINGTON, DC (Tuesday, June 23, 2015) – Today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) advanced the FY2016 THUD Appropriations bill which includes anti-truck safety provisions. A broad coalition including relatives of truck crash victims, law enforcement, labor and safety groups joined with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) afterwards to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject these dangerous and deadly provisions.

The full Appropriations Committee will markup the spending bill on Thursday, when it is expected that Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will offer an amendment, similar to the provision in the House-passed bill, to force every state to allow the operation of trucks pulling “double 33s” twin trailers that would amount to a combined length of 84 feet – longer than an eight story building.

A small minority of the trucking industry, including FedEx and the American Trucking Associations, is championing this major change in national transportation policy. It is widely opposed by trucking companies, the public, law enforcement, truck drivers, safety groups, short line railroads, and railway suppliers, among others. States and elected officials throughout the country have also spoken loud and clear on this issue.

A chronology of opposition:

  • On June 1, the S. Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the House opposing the measures.
  • On June 5, the S. Department of Transportation released the long-awaited findings of the truck size and weight study and determined that because of profound data limitations, there should be no changes in federal truck size and weight laws and limits.
  • On June 5, Republican state lawmakers from Pennsylvania sent a letter pleading with Congress not to increase truck size and weights because of the enormous infrastructure, safety and financial costs to the state.
  • On June 10, 15 CEOs of major trucking companies across the country sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations leadership objecting to the economic and competitive consequences of such a major change in national freight policy to financially benefit a few select companies like FedEx and others.
  • On June 16, the Illinois State Senate unanimously passed a resolution against federal changes in truck size and weight laws.
  • On June 18, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee stating that there has not been sufficient dialogue on the impacts of these provisions and the appropriate committees of jurisdiction have not reviewed them.
  • And, today, in the home state of Appropriations Committee Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), the Mississippi Transportation Commission passed a resolution opposing bigger and heavier trucks because it will override their decision-making and degrade safety on Mississippi roads.

The following quotes are from speakers at today’s U.S. Capitol news conference:

Jackie Gillan, president, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety:

“Before today is over, 11 people will die in large truck crashes and 275 more will be injured. We urge Congress to put the brakes on the runaway trucking industry agenda of safety repeals and rollbacks. It is on a deadly collision course with public safety. Everyday opposition is growing and the evidence is more compelling that anti-truck safety measures will result in more crashes, deaths and injuries.”

Joan Claybrook, chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“It’s not enough that trucking interests want victims and their families to bear the emotional costs of truck crashes but they also want them to bear the economic costs of hospitalizations and medical care. It is literally a trucking industry ‘hit and run’ leaving innocent truck crash victims and their families on the side of the road without sticking around to help.”

Lisa Shrum (Fayette, MO) whose mother Virginia and stepfather Randy were killed in a truck crash involving a FedEx double trailer truck:

“I urge the Senators on the Appropriations Committee to think about your families and their safety before you vote to put FedEx in the driver’s seat and ignore the dangers of oversized and overweight trucks. Our families need your protection.”

Fred McLuckie, International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

“More than 600,000 of our 1.4 million members start their workday by turning a key in a vehicle. The road is their workplace, roads that are congested like never before. It is irresponsible to allow larger, heavier trucks on our highways while potentially allowing employers to keep drivers on the road for more than 80 hours a week.”

Andrew Matthews, Chairman, National Troopers Coalition:

“On behalf of the National Troopers Coalition’s 42,000 members, we ask the Senate to oppose any amendment forcing the states to allow heavier and longer trucks on our nation’s highways. Every day our members witness the dangers that these longer tractor-trailers pose to the motoring public and our troopers. If ‘Twin 33s’ become legal, this could ultimately replace 53-foot singles as one of the most commonly used configurations.”

Ed Slattery (Lutherville, MD), board member, Parents Against Tired Truckers, whose wife Susan was killed and sons, Peter and Matthew, seriously injured in a triple-trailer truck crash caused by a truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel:

“I urge Senators in both parties to think about the thoughts coursing through my head each night as I go to sleep. You think about re-election. I think about Matthew having another seizure in the middle of the night. You think about campaign promises that you’ve made. I think about what the last seconds of my wife’s live were like. Did she see the truck barreling down on her in the rear view mirror? Does she know her boys lived, albeit severely injured? You might wonder what you’d do if this happened to your family. I don’t have to wonder. I urge the Senate to vote for families. I urge you to vote against heavier trucks that threaten our highways and bridges. I urge you to vote for the American people who oppose larger and heavier trucks by a very large majority.”

Robert Mills, Officer, Forth Worth (TX) Police Department:

“I am on the highways every day for my job. I see firsthand the dangerous conditions motorists, truck drivers and law enforcement face. It confounds me that Congress is considering actions to make our roads even less safe considering 4,000 people die every year in truck crashes and nearly 100,000 more are injured.”


Media Advisory: News Conference to Stop Assault on Truck Safety


Truck crash victims, law enforcement, safety advocates to join Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) as Senate is poised to consider dangerous special interest riders including “Double 33 Trailers” and “Tired Truckers” provisions passed by House in FY 2016 transportation spending bill


NEWS CONFERENCE to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to stop the unprecedented assault on truck safety led by large trucking company lobbyists who used backdoor maneuvers to slip several anti-truck safety provisions into the FY 2016 transportation spending bill (HR 2577) narrowly approved by the House on June 9.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) will mark up the Senate’s FY 2016 transportation appropriations bill on Tuesday, June 23 and the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday, June 25. News conference speakers will call on the Senate committee to reject these stealth riders that made it into the House bill without any hearings, public input or evaluation of the impacts of these rollbacks on safety and the nation’s roads and bridges.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 2:30pm


U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) Room 208, Washington, D.C.


Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a leading voice for improved commercial motor vehicle safety. On June 18, Senator Blumenthal and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations leadership urging them to reject any effort to legalize double 33-foot trailers on the nation’s highways.

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (INVITED)

Andy Matthews, Chairman of the National Troopers Coalition, which represents 42,000 State Troopers from 41 states around the country, and President of the Connecticut State Police Union.

Lisa Shrum of Fayette, Missouri, whose mother Virginia Baker and stepfather Randy Baker were killed in a crash on October 10, 2006, involving a FedEx double trailer truck. Lisa is a victim advocate with the Truck Safety Coalition.

Ed Slattery of Lutherville, Maryland. On August 16, 2010, Ed’s wife Susan was killed and their two sons, Peter and Matthew, were severely injured when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of a triple-trailer truck on the Ohio Turnpike, forcing them into the semi-trailer ahead. Matthew suffered massive head trauma, and is permanently disabled. Ed is a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers.

Officer Robert Mills, Fort Worth (TX) Police Department, one of the nation’s leading commercial motor vehicle safety law enforcement experts.


The safety rollbacks, repeals and exemptions in the House-passed transportation spending bill (HR 2577) would result in more overweight and oversized trucks driven by overworked and overtired truckers across the nation at the cost of more death and traumatic injury by:

  • Forcing states to allow FedEx double 33-foot trailers throughout the country, taking away a state’s right to set trailer lengths. 39 states currently prohibit double 33 tractor-trailer combinations, which are at least 84 feet in length – the height of an 8-story building.
  • Permanently increasing truck driver working and driving hours up to 82 hours per week and killing the “weekend off” for two nights of restorative rest.
  • Defunding a public rulemaking underway at the Department of Transportation that is reviewing and assessing if minimum insurance requirements for trucks and passenger-carrying buses are adequate. They have not been changed since 1985.
  • Giving special interest carve outs to increase the current federal truck weight limits from 80,000 lbs. up to 129,000 lbs. in Idaho, raise truck lengths in Kansas and possibly additional state exemptions that could be offered during Committee mark-up that would further damage already-crumbling roads and bridges and rollback safety.


  • Every year 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured, on average, in truck crashes.
  • Large truck crash fatalities increased 17% from 2009 through 2013 while total traffic fatalities declined by 3%.
  • The number of people injured in large truck crashes increased 28% from 2009 through 2013 while the number of people injured in all traffic crashes increased by only 4%.
  • In fatal two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger motor vehicle, 96% of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes cost our nation $99 billion annually.

CONTACT: Bill Bronrott, 202-270-4415 and

Op-Ed: Congress Should Halt Erosions to Truck Safety by Roy Crawford

The Courier-Journal

June 11, 2015

Congress should halt erosions to truck safety

By Roy Crawford

After a horrendous truck crash that results in deaths, injuries, and destruction, messages of sympathy and condolences from politicians are often scattered around like leftover debris at a crash scene. Unfortunately, seldom do we hear from our elected officials, “We should have done more.” This is especially the case with large truck crashes which kill about 4,000 people annually and injure 100,000 more.

The inaction and indifference after several recent fatal truck crashes in Kentucky should serve as a loud wake-up call. Instead of responding with measures to improve safety, there is a reactive cycle of inertia or, worse yet, efforts going on right now in Congress to roll back lifesaving truck safety laws.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairs one of the most important committees in Congress, the House Appropriations Committee, which provides funding for all federal agencies and programs. As of now the House is debating the annual spending bill for transportation programs drafted under his leadership. The bill includes numerous anti-truck safety provisions pushed by well-connected and well financed corporate trucking lobbyists. None of these changes in current law were subject to any legislative hearing, agency review, or public debate.

These include a FedEx proposal to overturn the law in 39 states, including Kentucky, and force every state to allow extra-long trucks exceeding 84 feet in length pulling two 33-foot-long trailers.

Furthermore, the bill continues the “Tired Truckers” exemption that took away truck drivers’ vitally important weekends off and allows them to work and drive as many as 82 hours a week. The bill also stops an on-going rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure adequate insurance requirements for trucks and passenger carrying buses.

Increasing the size and weight of trucks is unsafe and unpopular. Companies like FedEx pushing for bigger trucks are misleading Congress and the public by suggesting that trucks pulling two longer trailers are safer and will result in fewer trucks on the roads. That is wrong. The recent multi-vehicle crash in Kentucky involving a FedEx double tractor-trailer truck and causing the needless death of two people is evidence of how dangerous these big trucks are.

Unfortunately, I know firsthand the dangers of truck crashes. My 16-year-old son, Guy Crawford, was killed on Jan. 12, 1994, near Isom, Ky. He approached a grossly overloaded coal truck traveling at only about a third of the speed limit, a situation that violates the expectations of other drivers. The truck did not have proper rear lights and reflectors or any underride guard at all.

As of now, in fatal truck crashes involving a car and a truck, 96% of the deaths are the occupants of the car. Although I am a forensic engineer I don’t need to rely on my professional expertise to know that longer trucks are more difficult to maneuver in traffic, resulting in loss of ability to avoid collisions and sometimes causing rollovers; have increased blind spots; when overloaded travel dangerously slowly on high-speed highways, especially here in Eastern Kentucky where we have such long, steep grades; run away with overheated brakes, and cause much more serious crashes.

Fatigued truck driving is a serious problem in the trucking industry, yet the bill in the House of Representatives will, against all logic, make things worse. An average work week for most Americans is 40 hours, but Congress is considering extending the already long work week of a trucker to more than double that amount of time — almost all of it surrounded by traffic.

From 2009 to 2013, large trucks have been involved in nearly 40,000 crashes on Kentucky roads, killing almost 500 people and injuring more than 9,000. And, truck crashes, deaths and injuries are on the rise compared to the drop in overall traffic fatalities and injuries.

Another provision in the bill would stop a public rulemaking to review minimum insurance requirements for trucking companies. The current federal minimum is only $750,000 and has not been changed since 1985. This is grossly inadequate to cover the medical costs of severe and often lifelong debilitating injuries or death in a crash when there are multiple victims.

In the next few weeks the U.S. Senate will take up this spending bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a member of the Appropriations Committee. I urge him not to support these provisions, and I also call upon Rep. Rogers and the rest of the Kentucky congressional delegation to put the safety of Kentucky families first.

Kentucky families will pay the price if these measures become law.

Roy Crawford is a retired forensic engineer living in Whitesburg, Ky.

Link to article:

Joint Statement on Tracy Morgan Settlement








As the one-year anniversary approaches of the horrific truck crash involving a tired trucker behind the wheel of a Walmart truck which hit and killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan and two others, Congress is poised to launch an all-out assault on truck safety by passing a federal spending law that guts and rolls back several lifesaving laws. Recent news stories indicate that Walmart and the crash victims including Tracy Morgan have reached a financial settlement.

Despite alarming increases in truck crash deaths and injuries since 2009, some members of Congress are pushing a legislative overhaul of lifesaving truck safety laws and rules in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill at the request of influential industry executives. The House of Representatives will take up this bill for floor debate next week. So-called “riders” in the federal spending bill will force every state to allow extra-long trucks pulling double 33 foot tractor trailers throughout the country, dramatically increase working and driving hours for truck drivers to 82 hours a week, carve out exemptions to federal truck size and weight laws, and stop a public rulemaking reviewing minimum insurance coverage for trucks and passenger carrying buses.

“Unfortunately, crashes like this one involving a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel will continue to kill and maim innocent families if Congress continues to pander to the wishes of special trucking interests. The House is taking up a federal transportation spending bill next week that will result in oversized and overweight trucks on our roads driven by overworked and overtired truckers. Public opinion polls are clear and convincing. By large majorities the public does not support any of these changes being pushed by special interests behind closed doors,” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“Truck crash fatalities have gone up by 17% and injuries by 28% over the last four years. Every day about 10 people die in truck crashes and 275 more are injured. Every year an average of 4,000 people needlessly die in truck crashes and 100,000 more are injured. Commercial motor vehicle crashes have a price tag of $99 billion annually. The economic and emotional costs to families and our economy are staggering. Yet, instead of advancing public safety, proposals are now being considered in Congress advancing industry profits,” said Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the Carter Administration.

The House spending bill for the Department of Transportation includes the FedEx plan to force every state to allow extra-long, dangerous trucks pulling double 33 foot trailers.  Another provision will extend the dramatic increase in the weekly working and driving hours of truck drivers by taking away their weekend off allowing them to work 82 hours a week.  This change was championed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) last year. There are also truck size and weight exemptions for states that dramatically exceed current limits.  Finally, trucking interests are trying to stop an on-going and public agency rulemaking to review and determine if insurance requirements set in 1985 are adequate for motor carriers including trucks and passenger carrying buses.

Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), who lost her son Jeff in a crash caused by a Walmart driver who fell asleep at the wheel said, “Truck drivers are being pushed beyond physical and mental limits to work up to 82 hours a week, more than double the average work week of most Americans. And, truck crash fatalities are on the rise. Yet, ignoring these sobering facts, Congress seems dead-set on putting more tired truckers on the road. This will jeopardize their lives and the lives of our family members. Backroom deals to gut effective and needed truck safety laws will only benefit trucking interests and not families like mine.”

Izer continued, “We need Congress and the Obama Administration to stand up for innocent motorists and truck drivers. The Tracy Morgan crash anniversary should serve as a reminder that 4,000 people being killed in truck crashes and 100,000 more being injured is not acceptable. If Congress prevails then President Obama should veto this bill and not lose any sleep over putting the safety of our families first and not giving a ‘free pass’ to trucking industry interests to plow over current safety laws.”


Contact: Beth Weaver 301-814-4088 or


Out-of-state big rigs wrecking on Kentucky’s roads

Out-of-state big rigs wrecking on Kentucky’s roads

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – A truck driver facing a reckless homicide charge after a fatal collision on I-64 is the latest example of out-of-state truck drivers involved in crashes on Kentucky roads…

See more:

TSC Letter to Secretary Foxx on House THUD Appropriations Bill

May 11, 2015

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:
We commend your commitment to highway and auto safety as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) FY 2016 budget request to address serious safety problems facing our nation. You have repeatedly stated in public meetings and congressional hearings that while our nation has made important progress in reducing our highway mortality toll, 32,719 deaths in 2013 are still unacceptable. Even one death is too many for the families and friends of a loved one needlessly killed. As family members who have lost our loved ones in large truck crashes, and other concerned North Carolina citizens, we completely agree and support your position.

Unfortunately, while overall motor vehicle fatalities have decreased the past five years, the same cannot be said about truck crash fatalities. In fact, there has been a serious and unabated rise in truck crash deaths and injuries. From 2009 to 2013, there was a 17 percent increase in truck crash deaths and a 28 percent increase in injuries. Yet, in Congress, right now, there is a full-scale assault on truck safety by special trucking interests and their allies. We haven’t seen anything this egregious, with its blatant disregard for safety, in the past 25 years.

Rollbacks to lifesaving truck safety laws and regulations are already included in the DOT Appropriations bill being considered on Wednesday in the House Committee on Appropriations. We expect the trucking industry will also try to include these anti-truck safety measures in the transportation spending bill in the U.S. Senate. If these measures are enacted into law, the public will be sharing the roads with overweight and oversized trucks driven by overtired and overworked truck drivers. There is no question that these provisions will result in more deaths, more injuries, more destruction and more damage to our nation’s already crumbling infrastructure.
Public opinion polls consistently show strong opposition to bigger, heavier, and longer trucks as well as increasing the federal limits on the working and driving hours of truck drivers.

The overall government FY 2015 spending bill enacted by Congress last December included several anti-truck safety provisions that became law when President Obama signed H.R. 83 (P. L. 113-235). Most notably, an amendment sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) allows truck drivers to increase their weekly working and driving hours from 70 to 82, and eliminates their required “weekend” off. DOT’s own data shows that alarmingly high levels of truck drivers are driving while fatigued, and nearly half have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

The FY 2016 DOT House Appropriations bill currently contains a trucking industry “wish list” of safety repeals that put trucking productivity ahead of public safety. These include the FedEx proposal to overturn the law in 39 states and force every state to allow “Double 33s” on federal and local roads. These are extra-long trucks exceeding 84 feet in length pulling two 33-foot-long trailers. Furthermore, the bill continues the “Tired Truckers” pilot program putting truck drivers and the public at unacceptable risk of death and injury due to driver fatigue, a well-documented and widespread problem in the trucking industry. There are also provisions allowing specific states to increase maximum truck weights by 50 percent or more above current federal limits and to increase truck length up to 100 feet or more.

The House Appropriations bill also contains a provision that would remove the funding for the rulemaking on minimum insurance for motor carriers. Set over 35 years ago at $750,000, the minimum insurance for motor carriers has not been raised since. All too many times this amount is insufficient for all the deaths, injuries and property damage a truck crash can leave in its wake. This appropriations bill, by banning any insurance increases, only shifts responsibility for these crashes onto the American public. When minimum insurance is not high enough to cover long-term health care for a crash survivor, or to pay for bridge repairs after a crash, taxpayers make up the difference. That survivor will become dependent on social security and/or Medicare, instead of the carrier who caused the damage. The bridge or infrastructure impacted will get fixed, but only when a city or state foots the bill. We can no longer allow dangerous trucking companies to shift responsibility for their crashes onto the backs of taxpayers.

As our nation’s top transportation official, you are in the position to carry through on your commitment to safety and stop this assault on truck safety by recommending that the President veto any spending bill that includes these safety repeals and rollbacks. Over the past couple years we have witnessed in horror some tragic but preventable truck crashes. Last year, in Orland, California, a FedEx double-trailer truck crashed into a bus transporting high school students and chaperones on a college exploratory trip, killing 10 people and injuring at least 30 more. According to DOT’s website, there have been nearly 2,600 FedEx crashes which have killed almost 90 people in the past two years. Now the company is lobbying for even bigger and even longer trucks on our streets and roads, and have publicly admitted it is to advance productivity and not safety.

In New Jersey, comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair was killed in a truck crash involving a WalMart driver, who appears to have dozed off and did not stop in a work zone despite traffic ahead. And recently, five Georgia nursing students were tragically killed and two others were injured, when their vehicles were mowed down by a runaway truck. The driver did not even slow down when approaching stopped traffic ahead.

We hope we can count on your leadership and commitment to safety to ensure that this Administration does not sign into law any bill that will jeopardize safety in any way. There can be no moral or political justification for allowing a bill to become law that will result in more crashes, more deaths, more injuries and more grieving families.


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

Jackie Novak
Edneyville, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak
Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

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

Sherri Hager
Statesville, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

J. Kent Williams
Greensboro, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Marvin and Linda Scherl
Germanton, NC
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition


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.”


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

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.


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

Read the Statement of the Obama Administration’s Policy Regarding Highway and Motor Carrier Safety

The Administration released a Statement of Administration to strongly oppose House passage of H.R. 4745, making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes. In particular, the Administration said this about the provisions in the bill that affects Highway and Motor Carrier Safety:

 The Administration objects to the provisions altering the permissible size and weight of trucks operating over Federal highways in the states of Mississippi, Wisconsin and Idaho.  Pursuant to the provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the Department of Transportation is currently conducting a comprehensive truck size and weight limits study.  Any reconsideration of size and weight limits should be done on a comprehensive basis with full consideration of the infrastructure and safety impacts as informed by the MAP-21 study.  The Administration opposes provisions that serve to weaken highway safety by altering or revising the existing safety regulations for motor carrier operators.

Read the entire Statement here.

Truck Size and Weight Press Conference – 04/09/2014

Today, a broad coalition of public health and safety groups, truck drivers, law enforcement, and families of truck crash victims joined U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (DMA) on Capitol Hill to oppose any increases to federal truck size and truck weight limits as Congress debates the next multi-billion dollar surface transportation reauthorization bill. Concerns about a dangerous and deadly policy change in federal law are heightened because the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently conducting a study on truck size and weights which has significant flaws and potential biases …

Download Full Press Release below.



Fact Sheets

Studies / Research

Advisory: Labor, Law Enforcement, Health and Safety Groups, and Victims of Truck Crashes Join to Oppose Bigger and Heavier Trucks

Contact:  Beth Weaver 301.814.4088 or


BREAKING NEWS – Transportation Research Board (TRB) Peer Review Committee Issues Report Condemning Methods Used in U.S. DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study

Serious Concerns Raised by Safety Groups Validated – Report Exposes Significant Weaknesses which Will Render Study Results Inaccurate and Unreliable

WHAT:           NEWS CONFERENCE – Serious concerns raised by safety groups and others about potential bias and data shortcuts in the conduct of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study (Study) required by MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (Pub. L. 112-141), have been confirmed today by a newly-released report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Peer Review Committee.  The report, TRB First Report: Review of Desk Scans, found that there are significant shortcomings in the study methodology which means the Study will not be able to predict the impact of large truck size and weight policy changes on safety, the environment and enforcement with a high degree of accuracy.

The purpose of the Truck Size and Weight Study was to gather objective data on the impact of longer, heavier trucks on safety and the infrastructure.  The results of the Study will likely influence Congress about future policy on truck size and weight limits.  Today’s TRB Report reveals a short-circuiting of the Study process and critical flaws with the Study.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), a broad coalition of law enforcement, labor, victims and health and safety groups will join with U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) to oppose bigger, heavier trucks and discuss the on-going problems plaguing the U.S. DOT study. This comes at a critical time as Congress debates reauthorization of the multi-billion dollar bill that funds surface transportation programs.

Additionally, findings from a recently released report, An Analysis of Truck Size and Weight Issues, Phase I – Safety, will be publicly introduced for the first time. Conducted at Marshall University by the Multimodal Transportation and Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC), a University Transportation Center recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), this report found a higher fatal crash rate when double trailer trucks are involved in a crash as compared to single trailer trucks, and a significantly  higher fatal crash rate for trucks with six or more axles, presumably the heaviest of trucks, as compared to those with five axles.

WHEN:            Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 10 a.m.

WHERE:        Cannon House Office Building, Room 421

 WHO:             U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Jacqueline Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Emcee)

Georges Benjamin, MD Executive Director, American Public Health Association

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Bruce Gower (Clyde, OH) Chief of Police

Mark Burton (Knoxville, TN) Director, Transportation Economics for the Center for Transportation Research, University of Tennessee

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Former Administrator, NHTSA

Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC) Board Member, Truck Safety Coalition and Safe Highways, and Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee – Her father was killed in 1983 in a truck crash in North Carolina.


BACKGROUND:  Truck crash fatalities and injuries have increased three years in a row. The number of fatalities has increased by 16 percent since 2009 from 3,380 to 3,921. The annual number of injured has increased by 40 percent during this time, from 74,000 to 104,000. In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, 98 percent of the deaths occur to car occupants.

Polls show a majority of the public does not want bigger trucks, nor do they want to pay for them. Overweight trucks accelerate the destruction of roads and bridges. One third of America’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition and one fourth of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Increasing truck weights will make our roads more deadly and create an unfunded mandate of infrastructure repair and maintenance needs paid by taxpayers.

More information is available at


Duluth News Tribune Reader’s View – “Cravaack, Klobuchar wrong on truck weight restrictions”

Published October 06, 2012, 12:00 AM

Reader’s view: Cravaack, Klobuchar wrong on truck weight restrictions

Nearly 23 years ago, I barely survived a truck crash that left me permanently disfigured. As a result, I became an advocate for truck safety, which is why I was shocked to read in the Sept. 27 News Tribune, “Loggers protest weight limits on Minnesota interstates,” that U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar support special-interest truck-weight increases. I thought our members of Congress were sent to Washington to protect and represent their constituents not to push the agenda of one industry.

The most recent truck size and weight pilot programs allowing excessively heavy trucks in Maine and Vermont resulted in more deaths and infrastructure destruction and more resultant costs. Minnesota shouldn’t go down the same road.

“On Vermont’s non-interstate highways, where significant safety gains were expected with the shift of trucks to the interstates, the number of crashes increased by 24 percent,” Vermont’s pilot-program report stated. “(Even with the addition of a 6th axle), the pilot loading results in a 59 percent increase in damage due to Class 10 trucks. … A typical 99,000-(pound), (six)-axle pilot vehicle requires pavement expenditures of 34.5 cents per mile of travel on the interstate system and about 53.6 cents per mile of travel off the interstate system — about 63 (percent) more per vehicle mile and about 32 (percent) more per ton mile than a fully loaded (five)-axle vehicle.”

Increases in truck weights always have resulted in more trucks on the road. We need to come up with innovative solutions rather than just piling the pounds onto our trucks at the peril of innocent motorists and increased risk to truck drivers. Minnesotans cannot afford the loss of lives and injuries and the increased damage and costs of heavier trucks. I urge my fellow Minnesotans to contact Congressman Cravaack and Sen. Klobuchar to tell them big trucks are not right for Minnesota.

Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, Minn.

Press Release: Loggers and Truckers Protesting in Minnesota Mislead the Public

Loggers and Truckers Protesting in Minnesota Mislead the Public

Maine and Vermont Overweight Truck Pilot Programs Confirm

Bigger and Heavier Trucks Are More Deadly, Destructive and Costly

To read the press release, click here.

Jane Mathis Fights for Truck Safety; St. Augustine Record

Tragedy propels local woman to fight increased truck weight allowances

Jane Mathis lost son, daughter-in-law in 2004 crash

Posted: February 5, 2012 – 12:51am


By George Bortle. The Associated Press

David and Mary Mathis were killed on the way back from their honeymoon, on March 25, 2004, after their car was hit from behind by a semi-truck, causing a chain reaction with another truck on I-95 near Titusville.



David Mathis was a jokester with a mischievous smile, an intern with a local law firm and a man married just five days when a truck rolled over his 1993 Acura, killing him and his bride, Mary Kathryn Forbes.

Both 23, they had graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and had just bought a house in Royal St. Augustine, said Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, David’s mother.

It was that March, 2004, crash on Interstate 95, caused when a semi-trailer truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel, that prompted Mathis to fight for legislative changes.

“Most loved ones can’t (become activists),” Mathis said. “It’s too painful; they just can’t.”

Most recently, she traveled to the U.S. Capitol to lobby against a House bill that would have allowed trucks to get bigger and heavier and, to Mathis and other safety advocates, that much more dangerous.

The committee Friday morning amended the bill in what a representative for U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation committee, called an “intense markup session” that lasted until 3:30 a.m.

Now the 700-page omnibus bill, called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, no longer would allow states to increase the weight cap.

Mica said the language disappeared mostly due to rail interests, not safety advocates.

“The freight train operators, if you have heavier weights, they don’t get the business to go on rail,” Mica said.

The amendment also calls for a study to examine how the increased caps would impact safety and infrastructure.

But Mathis still worries that the bill could change again, especially since it is very different from the Senate version, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, MAP21 for short.

The House is to vote on the bill during the week of Feb. 13, said Justin Harclerode, a spokesman for Mica.

Activism as an outlet

It took Mathis a couple of years to heal before she began looking for ways to make a difference.

Then, a friend suggested she join PATT, Parents Against Tired Trucking.

Now, she is a board member of the national Parents Against Tired Trucking and a part of the Truck Safety Coalition.

“It’s a club nobody wants to belong to,” she said.

In the past, she has lobbied for an increase in fines for those driving rigs overweight by 10,000 or more pounds and for those falsifying the paper log books that truckers must keep to show they are not driving more hours per day than allowed.

The fines haven’t increased since 1953, “When Eisenhower was in office,” she said.

That went nowhere.

But still, she keeps trying because David Mathis is always on her mind.

“I miss him every hour of every day,” she said.

She misses his 6-foot-1-inch frame bouncing on her bed and saying, “Hi, Mommy!”

And she likes to remember a particular sermon he gave to the youth at church.

“He was talking about how you should do things to show you have joie de vivre,” Mathis said.

“So he crowed like a chicken in the pulpit, and there was a giant burst of laughter,” she said.

The eerie thing for Mathis is that her son, a youth pastor at Memorial Presbyterian Church, came straight from senior prom night to give the sermon in the morning.

It was called “Forever Young,” she said with a shiver.

She paused.

“I’m lucky to have had 23 years with him,” she said. “Some people never have children at all.”


The newly amended version of the U.S. House Bill called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act would have increased the truck weight cap from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds.

Justin Harclerode, spokesman for Transportation Committee Chair John Mica, R-Fla., said the provisions were considered because they might have provided “economic benefits for commerce, things like that, efficiency.”

And he said there are safety arguments on both sides of the debate, because an Interstate ban on larger trucks in some states would have those trucks driving on local roads instead.

“And some folks would say it’s safer to have that kind of traffic on an interstate,” he said.

Now the bill requires a three-year study to assess what the impact of those changes would be to safety and infrastructure.

The study plus an anticipated lag before Congress votes on a final version reassure local truck safety advocate Jane Mathis.

However, “It’s up in the air,” Mathis said. “There’s a possibility those provisions could come back.”

“What we hope will happen is nothing,” Mathis said. “We just keep fighting away.”



The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) expresses its gratitude to Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) for their leadership in introducing and championing an amendment that removed dangerous changes to key truck safety policy and replaced them with a responsible study on the impacts of truck sizes and weights. The passage of this amendment occurred during yesterday’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee mark up of H.R. 7, “The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.”

The TSC also lauds the “aye” votes of Representatives Rahall (D-WV), Altmire (D-PA), Bishop (D-NY), Boswell (D-IA), Brown (D-FL), Bucshon (R-IN), Capuano (D-MA), Carnahan (D-MO), Cohen (D-TN), Cummings (D-MD), Denham (R-CA), Duncan (R-TN), Edwards (D-MD), Farenthold (R-TX), Graves (R-MO), Harris (R-MD), Hirono (D-HI), Holden (D-PA), Hultgren (R-IL), Johnson (R-IL), Johnson (D-TX), Larsen (D-WA), Lipinski (D-IL), Meehan (R-PA), Miller (R-CA), Miller (R-MI), Nadler (D-NY), Napolitano (D-CA), Norton (D-DC), Richardson (D-CA), and Shuler (D-NC).

These Representatives put the safety of all motorists before the pressures of high-powered trucking and shipping industry. Each of these “aye” votes saved countless lives that would have been lost and prevented severe injuries that would have resulted had the original legislative language been passed. The so-called “state option” that would have allowed states to increase truck weight on federal roads from the current 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds would have, in reality, not been an option but rather a bullying technique. Industry lobbyists would have rushed from state legislature to neighboring state legislature threatening economic disadvantages. We thank these responsible Members of Congress for protecting the safety of all families travelling on these roads.

We also want to thank Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood for the tremendous pro-safety leadership he demonstrated in condemning H.R. 7 as “the most anti-safety bill” he has ever seen. The TSC could not agree more with the Secretary and we look forward to working together with all these leaders in the Administration and Congress to rid H.R. 7 of other anti-safety provisions and move forward with S. 1950, the “Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act”. For more information on the safety provisions in S.1950 and other safety initiatives, please visit

Public Opinion Does Not Support Bigger Trucks

  • 74% of Americans oppose the trucking industry’s efforts to have Congress change the current law and allow heavier trucks on the roads.
Source: Lake Research Partners Poll, April 2011
  • Nearly three quarters of registered voters oppose increasing the national cap on truck size from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds.
Source: Hart Research Associates, April 2011
  • 66% of Americans oppose changing the current law and allowing trucks carrying heavier loads on U.S. highways. “Support for the measure is anemic (only 16% favor the efforts.) Opposition is deep and transcends gender, age, political identification, and region.”
  • Eight out of ten (82%) Americans feel trucks pulling double or triple trailers are more dangerous than those pulling just a single trailer.
Source: Lake Research Partners Poll, May 2008
  • By 77% to 16%, the public opposes increasing truck weight limits.
  • 80% of Americans believe that trucks with two or more trailers are less safe than trucks with a single trailer.
Source: Lou Harris Poll, June 2004
  • By 71% to 21%, a majority of the American people are willing to pay higher prices for goods in exchange for tougher truck safety standards.
Source: Lou Harris Poll, April 1998
  • 88% of Americans oppose allowing bigger and heavier trucks on the highways.
  • 80% are fully convinced that “trucks pulling two or more trailers are less safe than trucks pulling only one trailer.”
Source: Lou Harris Poll, May 1996
The facts are clear—for over a decade, the public has consistently and convincingly opposed big trucks. Stand with your constituents and stand up for trucking safety by opposing any increase to truck size and weight or “state option” in the surface transportation bill.

Kraft Pushes for 97,000-Pound Trucks Called Bridge Wreckers

Kraft Pushes for 97,000-Pound Trucks Called Bridge Wreckers

By Jeff Plungis – Dec 12, 2011

Emboldened by U.S. legislation allowing Maine and Vermont to keep 97,000-pound trucks rumbling on their interstate highways, Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) and Home Depot Inc. are pressing more states to follow.

Companies including Kraft, which says its trucks would drive 33 million fewer miles a year with higher weight limits nationwide, say they need to carry loads more efficiently to combat high diesel-fuel prices. Safety advocates say more heavy trucks would accelerate an increase in truck-related accident deaths, and question whether bridges can withstand the added weight.

“You’re starting to roll the dice,” said Andrew Herrmann, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “Do you really want to keep these heavy loads, have a lower factor of safety and start wearing these bridges out faster?”

Trucks can weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds on interstate highways under U.S. law. Maine and Vermont are exceptions under a pilot program that Congress last month extended for 20 years.

The proposed Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, sponsored by Representative Michael Michaud, a Maine Democrat, would allow every state to decide how extensively 97,000-pound trucks can travel based on economic need and the condition of its roads and bridges.

The bill may be rolled into a multiyear highway policy bill Congress will work on next year, said John Runyan, executive director of the Washington-based Coalition for Transportation Productivity. The group had 120 company members, including Kraft, MillerCoors LLC, International Paper Co., Hershey Co., Owens Corning Inc. (GLW) and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., as of Dec. 2. Seventy trade associations also backed the effort.

Home Depot

States are already allowed to set higher weight limits for secondary roads and 44 do, according to Runyan’s group. Twenty- eight states also allow a limited number of heavier trucks on interstates by permit, for certain vital commodities or for shipping containers loaded from ports, Runyan said.

Lindsay Chason, senior manager for environmental innovation for Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc. (HD), told Georgia’s transportation board Oct. 19 that 97,000-pound trucks were needed to keep up with a tripling of congestion since 1982 and diesel-price increases.

The average U.S. retail price for diesel fuel was $3.93 per gallon as of Dec. 5, according to the U.S. Energy Department, up 18 percent from the beginning of the year.

Wisconsin Loosening

Wisconsin last month passed a package of nine bills intended to loosen various truck size and weight limits. Governor Scott Walker,a Republican, said the new laws would create jobs.

Companies are trying to win higher weight limits rather than the ability to operate longer trucks, like triple trailers, Runyan said. Adding a sixth axle to 97,000-pound trucks on the interstates, as required by Michaud’s bill, would reduce road wear and improve braking, he said.

“When you’re filling a truck with a product and it’s 80 percent filled, you’re running around with a lot of trucks with extra space,” he said.

Bridge Stress

Companies can partially offset the heftier trucks’ added road wear by keeping the size of the trailer the same and spreading the weight over an additional axle, said Herrmann, head of the engineering group. The extra axle doesn’t offset the stress on interstate bridges, which were designed for 80,000- pound trucks, he said.

Herrmann’s group estimates that 25 percent of U.S. bridges need weight limits or restrict traffic because they’re not strong enough. The U.S. is spending about $10.5 billion a year to maintain bridges, and $17 billion is needed to keep up with the ongoing damage, he said.

“Those bridges already need work,” Herrmann said. “Now we’re saying let’s go back and reinforce all the bridges that need it, when we don’t have enough money to maintain the structures that we have.”

Kraft, the maker of Cheez Whiz and Oreo cookies, would make 66,000 fewer truck trips if the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act were passed, said Harry Haney, associate director of transportation planning with the Northfield, Illinois-based company. Heavier trucks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio would help the company most, he said.

Kraft trucks would drive 33 million fewer miles a year and put 2.1 billion fewer pounds on roads with higher U.S. weight limits, Haney said. The biggest savings would be in shipments of products like Miracle Whip salad dressing, Oscar Meyer meat and Capri Sun juices, he said.

“We need to find ways to use our existing infrastructure more efficiently,” Haney said. “Members of Congress increasingly agree.”

Logging Trucks

Congress last month extended a one-year pilot program to allow 100,000-pound trucks on interstates in Maine and Vermont for 20 years, with support from Weyerhaeuser Co. and other forest-products companies.

Trucks are the only transportation mode that logging companies and paper producers can use to carry felled trees, wood chips and biomass from leaves and branches from forests, said Neil Ward, communications director of the Forest Resources Association in Rockville, Maryland.

Minnesota, Ohio

Minnesota, like Maine, is a border state where industry wants heavier trucks from Canada allowed on the interstates, Ward said. Ohio’s legislature is debating higher weight limits to accommodate agricultural products, depending on what Congress does, he said.

“In the cases where a state already has a state limit similar to what we’re proposing for the interstate highway, then it’s a quick and turnkey operation to get an opt-in” to the proposed House bill, Ward said.

In Minnesota, where a bridge on Interstate 35 collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people, the state transportation department supports allowing either 97,000- or 99,000-pound trucks with six axles on interstate highways, according to a March statement. Interstate bridges are equal to or better than those on state highways where heavy trucks already travel by permit, the agency said.

Safety Concerns

Maine and Vermont officials downplayed concerns raised by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration about the ability of interstate bridges to stand up under 100,000-pound trucks, according to officials at The Truck Safety Coalition, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The three safety-advocacy groups obtained documents about the two states’ pilot program under the Freedom of Information Act.

“If one assumes that greater than a 10 percent ‘overstress’ is unacceptable, then these results show that every 100,000 lbs. truck is a problem,” a FHWA analysis concluded.

Justin Nisly, a spokesman for the highway administration, declined to comment, saying the agency’s analysis wasn’t final.

Extra fees proposed for overweight trucks won’t cover the costs of reinforcing or rebuilding bridges that weren’t designed for the higher weight, with car owners and taxpayers picking up the tab, said John Lannen, executive director of The Truck Safety Coalition, based in Arlington, Virginia.

‘Ripple Effect’

“The ripple effect will be catastrophic,” Lannen said of the pressure on other states to increase weight limits. “The entire country’s motoring public will be put in grave danger.”

Commercial truck-related fatalities, including people in cars struck by big rigs, rose 8.7 percent in 2010 to 3,675, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Dec. 8. The American Trucking Associations said the same day that 2010 was still among the safest years on record and the trucking fatality rate, adjusted for miles driven, has fallen over the past two decades.

In Pennsylvania, John Rafferty, the Republican chairman of the state’s Senate Transportation Committee, and John Wozniak, the panel’s senior Democrat, warned the state’s congressional delegation that Pennsylvania already needs $3.5 billion a year to upgrade and maintain roads and bridges. More than 5,000 bridges remain structurally deficient, they said in a Nov. 14 letter.

“We cannot afford larger trucks on our roads and bridges,” the senators said.

The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act is H.R. 763.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at

After Tragic Crash, Maine Family Works to Make Roadways Safer

Jackman, ME:  The Mahaney Family lost their 5 year old son Liam, parents Christina and Gary were badly injured and their home was destroyed when a 100,000 + lb. logging truck crashed and dumped its logs onto their home.  The truck driver admitted that he had falled asleep behind the wheel.

This fall the Mahaneys were shocked to learn that the Somerset County District Attorney’s office would not press charges against  truck driver Christian Cloutier.  To read more click here.

The Mahaneys, seeking to prevent another family from suffering the needless loss and pain that their family is enduring, reached out to community and state leaders to make their roadways safer.  To view story click here:



Maine Vermont FOIA Information Released

Please click the links below to view the PDF documents.

Maine Vermont FOIA Information Revealed (PDF)

Vermont Truck Interstate Pilot Study (PDF)

Commerce Effects VT State Review (PDF)

Bigger trucks spell big trouble on Maryland’s roads

AAA Mid-Atlantic says Congress should resist lobbying efforts, protect state’s drivers and roads by saying no to huge new vehicles

June 19, 2011|By Ragina C. Averella

In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs this month, I was very clear about my reason for being there: AAA Mid-Atlantic is strongly opposed, on behalf of its members and all motorists, to any increase in the size and weight of tractor-trailer trucks. The trucks we see every day on I-95 and the Baltimore Beltway are plenty big already.

I am supported in this position by a December 2010 Maryland public opinion poll, commissioned by AAA Mid-Atlantic. The poll showed 85 percent of Maryland drivers opposing any increase to the size or weight of tractor-trailer trucks, with 70 percent of respondents stating they are “strongly opposed” to any such move. Yet, Congress is being heavily lobbied to do just that. A measure to increase the maximum weight of these giant trucks — currently 80,000 pounds — by an additional 17,000 pounds (that’s 81/2 tons) is being considered for inclusion in the upcoming national surface transportation funding bill. Lobbyists are also urging Congress to lift a freeze on triple-trailer trucks — vehicles that move across traffic lanes in a snakelike motion and can stretch longer than 110 feet.

In our more than 100 years of advocating for safety on the roads, AAA has always pushed hard for measures that save lives and increase the well-being of all motorists. That means we do not believe commerce trumps safety. The truck size and weight increase is being pushed by lobbyists for large corporations, trucking companies and their supporters in Congress as a way for trucking companies to operate more profitably. At what cost, we ask? Is a more profitable business worth endangering the lives of millions of motorists?

Despite significant improvement in truck crash rates, large trucks on the road today have a fatal crash involvement rate 40 percent higher than that of passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Increasing the weight or size of trucks will only make trucks more dangerous. In its 2000 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) pointed out that heavier trucks tend to have a higher center of gravity because the additional weight is typically added vertically. This higher center of gravity increases the risk of rollovers and creates concern about the ability of truck operators to maintain their brakes with heavier loads. This could drastically affect the stopping distance of these trucks. The Department of Transportation also found that the risks of long-doubles and triple-trailer trucks increased the likelihood of trailer sway, as well as the possibility of a higher overall fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.

In addition to motorist safety, there are also concerns about the impact heavier trucks would have on our roads and bridges, which are already severely stressed. As it is, there is not enough money to repair or rebuild our transportation infrastructure. Maryland, for example, has more than 1,322 highway bridges classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the Department of Transportation’s 2010 National Bridge Inventory. That’s an important part of the equation, because Congress is considering pushing our roads and bridges past their breaking point with these big-truck measures. We cannot, in good conscience, allow that to happen without a fight. At minimum, Congress should comprehensively study the impact of such a move before even considering passing such laws. Decisions on increasing truck weights by 81/2 tons or allowing huge triple trailer trucks will impact the safety of everyone.

I urge all Maryland motorists to make their voices heard on this issue. It is time to put a roadblock in front of the bigger-truck lobby — and public participation in the process is the best way to do that.

. Find out more about this issue at

Washington state cannot afford bigger trucks on our stressed highways

Tommie Pillow
As Washington State Patrol troopers, my colleagues and I see first-hand the dangers and damage large trucks can cause on our state’ s roads.

Yet powerful corporations and large trucking companies are lobbying Congress to let tractor-trailer trucks grow even bigger — by allowing existing trucks to be eight tons heavier and by allowing double and triple-trailer trucks across the country.

This is a bad policy that would only benefit a few big companies, while coming with a heavy price tag that includes new highway dangers to average motorists and further damage to our roads and bridges.

In our state in 2005, there were 68 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks. Nationally, large trucks are involved in fatal accidents 40 percent more than the rate for passenger cars.

Here’ s the reality: Trucks are already dangerous. These new Washington, D.C., proposals would make them even more so.

The reasons are easy to understand: Bigger trucks mean more weight and energy in crashes; crashes become severe accidents; and severe accidents can become fatalities. Further, bigger trucks are more likely to roll over, because they will have a higher center of gravity, greatly increasing the risk of roll-overs on our roads.

Then there are issues with safety maintenance.

Larger trucks will take longer to stop. Increasing truck weight will lead to increased brake maintenance problems. In short, a bigger truck is more likely to wear out its important safety equipment sooner, including the brakes, suspension and tires. The equation is simple: Greater equipment wear means a greater risk of accidents.

The safety of motorists on Washington’ s roads and highways is obviously my primary concern and, respectfully, should be top of mind for our congressional representatives as they consider these bigger truck proposals.

‘ Structurally deficient’

Of course, apart from the safety considerations, we need to keep in mind the potential damage to the infrastructure we all share. Larger trucks will place a greater strain upon our already damaged bridges.

About 400 of our state’ s bridges are classified as “ structurally deficient” — meaning they need to be replaced or receive significant repairs. Almost three million vehicles travel over those bridges on a daily basis.

For an example of how a weakened part of our transportation infrastructure can have great impact, the Seattle — or Alaskan Way — viaduct is a prominent piece of our eroded transportation infrastructure that has to be inspected every three months and will cost us more than $3 billion to replace by the time the project is completed in 2016.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, heavy trucks today only pay for 80 percent of the damage they cause. Allowing them to get heavier and longer means they would only pay half of their costs.

I’ ve served this community for more than 26 years. I know Washington roads. And I know that bigger trucks are a dangerous and expensive proposition.

We are fortunate to have Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, serving as members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

That committee will have a lot to say about whether bigger trucks will be allowed on our roads. I urge Congress to weigh this issue carefully before making a decision that could impact everyone on the road.

– – –

Tommie Pillow is president of the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association. He can be reached at 360-704-7530 or via email at

Published May 05, 2011

Your Help Needed Now to Stop Bigger Trucks!

Please contact your Members of Congress with the following message on bigger trucks.  Your Representatives can be contacted at and



As you deliberate on the surface transportation authorization bill, I urge you to retain current federal truck size and weight limits and reject any special interest pilot projects or other attempts to increase these limits.  I ask that you support the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA) H.R. 1574/S. 876 which would “freeze” truck weights and lengths in every state and prevent dangerous overweight trucks from being on our already compromised roads and bridges.

On average 4,000 people are killed in truck crashes annually and 100,000 more are injured.  The annual cost of truck crashes exceeds $19 billion.  In the past 10 years more than 48,000 people have needlessly died and over 1 million have been injured in truck crashes.  In fatal 2-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck 98% of the deaths are occupants of the passenger vehicles.  Adding even more weight to a big truck dramatically increases the risk of death and serious injury.


It is time for Congress to say enough is enough.  Please take action now to protect innocent motorists and truck drivers from the inherent dangers of overweight trucks which would also further damage our infrastructure and lead to more fuel consumption and more emissions.  Please support SHIPA.  Thank you.

Maine and Vermont Press Release 12-23-10

Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) after her son Jeff and three of his friends were killed in a truck crash, the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and other safety organizations sent a letter to Governor Baldacci today urging him to take action to stop trucks that weigh 100,000 lbs. from traveling on Maine?s state roads. The one-year pilot program, included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 (Public Law No. 11-117, H.R. 3288), that allowed 100,000 lb. trucks on sections of Maine?s Interstates and 99,000 lb. trucks on Vermont?s Interstates expired on December 17, 2010.

Read More…

Maine and Vermont Overweight Truck Pilot Program

Maine Vermont FOIA Information Released

Press Release

Fact Sheets


FHWA Reports


Letter on Maine and Vermont Truck Weight Exemption

Anti Safety, Special Truck Provision for Maine and Vermont has no place in the continuing resolution.  Consumer health, safety, and environmental groups, and truck crash victims and survivors strongly oppose extending the federal truck weight exemptions.

Read More…

Response to Letter from Secretary Dill and Commissioner Cole – Email
Thursday, May 13, 2010 2:34 PM
; Getchell, Chip; Elder, Robert
Response to letter from Secretary Dill and Commissioner Cole
Letter to Commissioners ME-VT.pdf

Letter from Maine and Vermont – Email
Thursday, May 06, 2010 9:24 AM
; Getchell, Chip
RE: Letter from Maine and Vermont

Victory for truck crash victims

A Tenacious Volunteer Achieves Legislative Victory in North Carolina

Jennifer Tierney has helped to achieve numerous advances in truck safety through her involvement with CRASH and the Truck Safety Coalition, and this year she added to her list of accomplishments.  When Jennifer learned about Senate Bill 1695 (S1695) which would allow longer trucks, wider boats and some

Continue reading “Victory for truck crash victims”

30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight

In ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with truckers, FDOT has dull claws; As many as 30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight
By: Fred Hiers / Star-Banner (Ocala, Florida); Monday, October 22, 2007

OCALA – Carlos Reinoso sat with the door of his dump truck slung open and his legs dangling over the side. He couldn’t have looked more bored.

Continue reading “30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight”

Some Truck Drivers Rigged For Danger

Reported by: David Rose / Web produced by: Neil Relyea / Photographed by: 9News
First posted: 2/8/2006 11:15:04 PM

There are some drivers that have no business being on the road.

But what 9News uncovered is that “business” is exactly what they’re doing.

9News takes a look at how some drivers are rigged for danger.

Continue reading “Some Truck Drivers Rigged For Danger”