BY DAPHNE IZER, JANE MATHIS, DAWN KING AND TAMI FRIEDRICH TRAKH
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
Founder, Parents Against Tired
Mother of Jeff Izer,
Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93
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
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
Board Member, CRASH
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