Truck Crash Survivors and Advocates Push Safety Agenda

WASHINGTON, DC (July 16, 2019)—Truck crash survivors and their families, and safety advocates today joined with U.S. Representatives Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) at the U.S. Capitol to announce the introduction of critical safety legislation that would require automatic emergency braking for new commercial trucks, and increase the minimum insurance level for large trucks to account for the medical cost inflation since 1980, and future indexing. The legislation comes as truck crash deaths are on the rise with 4,761 truck crash fatalities in the United States in 2017—an increase of 41 percent since 2007.

Several dozen truck crash survivors and families from 20 states were in Washington, DC for the Truck Safety Coalition’s biennial Sorrow to Strength conference for workshops on truck safety issues, advocacy and a remembrance ceremony.

“With survivors and families of truck crash victims from all over the country here in Washington, D.C. for our Sorrow to Strength conference, we cannot think of a better way to honor those who have been affected by truck crashes,” said Harry Adler, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “We commend Representatives Johnson, Garcia, and Cartwright for introducing these two bills – the Safe Roads Act and the INSURANCE Act – that would greatly improve truck safety.”

“It is flat out wrong that the minimum insurance required to help families cope with deaths or life-long physical and emotional trauma from crashes with large trucks was never set to adjust for inflation. Too many Americans are saddled with crippling debt as a result of these catastrophic crashes and its time Congress did something about it,” said Rep. Jesús Chuy García (IL-04). “Tying the minimum insurance requirement to the inflation of medical costs is common sense and the American public deserves the certainty that if they are ever faced with such tragedy, they will have some means to move forward.”

“Tragically, the simple installation of automatic braking systems on all commercial motor vehicles – a $500 safety feature – might have prevented these deaths and countless others across the country,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, (D-GA).  “America’s roads and highways should be safe for all drivers. Taking full advantage of technologies that are available and proven to anticipate and prevent crashes will save lives.”

“The truck driver that killed my son Aaron was looking away from the road for 13 seconds. While this may seem like a short period of time, these 13 seconds changed my entire life,” said Pam Biddle of Waverly Hall, Georgia. “That is why I am so thankful that Representative Johnson introduced the Safe Roads Act to ensure that no other family has to go through what I and so many others have endured: the preventable loss of a loved one. A truck equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking could have overridden the driver’s distraction and applied the brakes. It could have saved my son.”

“My son, Graham, was severely injured in a truck crash caused by a truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel. While the driver walked away, my son has since had more than 20 different surgeries, years of physical and occupational therapy, and is now permanently disabled.” said Kate Brown of Gurnee, Illinois. “That is why I have been advocating since his crash in 2005 to increase the minimum level of financial responsibility for motor carriers, which has not been increased since it was set in 1980. Families shouldn’t have to suffer because of nearly four decades of inaction by our lawmakers, and if this bill introduced by Congressmen Garcia and Cartwright, they will not have to as it will increase the minimum and then index it to medical cost inflation.”

Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said “Truck crashes, deaths and injuries are unacceptably high.  This carnage would not be tolerated in any other industry.  It is imperative that Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation get serious about solving this problem.  Solutions, including requiring advanced technologies in all new trucks, are readily available – they just need to be implemented.”

The Truck Safety Coalition urges passage and implementation of the following data-driven and long-delayed truck safety mandates:

  • Safe Roads Act (Automatic Emergency Braking)
  • Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act (S. 2033)
  • Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles Act (INSURANCE Act)
  • Stop Underrides Act (H.R. 1511 and S. 665)

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