The notion that Congress should be “praised” for a bipartisan effort to pass a multiyear highway spending bill is questionable. Doing so is Congress’ job, and, frankly, this bill is the bare minimum. As a mother who lost her son in a truck crash, I would not praise this legislation, which largely ignores safety.

A little more than a year ago, my son, Michael, was killed in a truck crash due to the truck driver’s negligence. If the truck he crashed into had not made an illegal U-turn and was equipped with sideguards, he would likely be alive today. Unfortunately, even after my son’s preventable death, Congress has failed to advance common-sense safety features that would save lives and prevent injuries.

Rather than requiring rear and side underside guards or forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) braking systems on all large trucks, which would benefit everyone on our roads, Congress is pushing through several earmarks that only benefit the trucking industry. Mandating high-risk interstate teen truckers, exempting classes of truck drivers, and limiting the liability of shippers and brokers in their hiring decisions do not enhance safety — they roll it back.

Congress cannot continue to ignore the fact that truck crash fatalities have risen 17 percent nationwide and 37 percent in Tennessee between 2009 and 2013. Passing a bill that would move our country forward on safety would actually be deserving of praise.

Laurie Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

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