Truck Crash Fatalities Up 28 Percent Since 2009

As the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation holds a hearing on the nomination of Raymond Martinez to Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck crash survivors and families call on the nominee to finalize outstanding safety rules and improve commercial motor vehicle enforcement in the face of a seven-year increase in truck crash fatalities.

In 2016, there were 4,317 truck crash fatalities, an increase of 28 percent since 2009. Truck crash injuries also increased by 57 percent from 2009 to 2015.  Overall, truck crashes increased by 45 percent from 2009 to 2015, totaling 415,000 in 2015.

WHAT: Truck crash victims and families demand FMCSA take urgent action on key safety rulemakings that it has delayed or withdrawn that mandate measures to prevent crashes, reduce injuries, and save lives:

  • Release a Final Rule Requiring Speed Limiters on All Trucks: FMCSA and NHTSA granted petition for rulemaking in 2011, but the agencies have since delayed it more than 20 times. The current administration identified the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter Rule as a long-term action item in its Unified Agenda, meaning the agencies need a minimum of 12-months to proceed.
  • Require Sleep Apnea Screening for All Truck Drivers: The FMCSA abandoned its pursuit of a rulemaking to require screening and treatment for commercial motor vehicle drivers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. FMCSA’s withdrawal of this important safety rulemaking ignores the advice of medical experts, fellow federal regulators and the agency’s own advisory committees.
  • Enforce Electronic Logging Device Mandate: The ELD final rule is set to take effect in December of this year, and the FMCSA must ensure that motor carriers are compliant with this life saving mandate.
  • Mandate Minimum Number of Hours of Behind-the-Wheel Entry Level Driver Training: The FMCSA blunted the safety potential of the entry-level driver-training rule by removing the requirement for a minimum number of hours for behind-the-wheel training from the final rule.
  • Increase Minimum Levels of Insurances Required by Trucks: In June 2017, the FMCSA withdrew an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to increase the minimum level of financial responsibility for trucks per incident. The $750,000 amount was set in 1980 and has not been increased, not even to account for inflation.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 10 a.m. (Family Members Available For Interviews Before and After Hearing)

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253

WHO: Morgan Lake (Bowie, MD) On July 19, 2013, Morgan’s car was hit from behind by a distracted truck driver while slowed to a near stop for traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, traveling at approximately 50 mph.

Ed Slattery (Lutherville, MD) Board Member, PATT. Ed’s wife Susan Slattery was killed and his sons Matthew and Peter Slattery were critically injured in a truck crash 8/16/10 after a truck driver, operating a triple tractor-trailer, fell asleep behind the wheel.

Dawn King (Davisburg, MI) President, Truck Safety Coalition. Dawn’s father, Bill Badger, was killed on December 23, 2004, just over the Georgia state border, by a tired trucker who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into his car.

Available for Phone Interviews:

Kate Brown, Gurnee, IL | Minimum Insurance:  On May 2, 2005, in Round Lake, Illinois, Kate’s 27-year-old son Graham was hit by a drunk, drugged and fatigued truck driver who had fallen asleep, swerved into the oncoming lane, and hit Graham’s car sending it airborne into a field where it rolled over.  The driver stepped out of his rig and was witnessed saying he had been “partying all night.”  The driver’s blood and urine were taken, but the blood work was never tested although a crack pipe was found in his truck and cocaine and alcohol in his urine. The bloodwork mishandling enabled the driver to receive a lesser sentence. Due to life-threatening injuries, Graham underwent 22 different surgeries and endured three years of physical and occupational therapy. He is now permanently, partially disabled.

Steve Owings, Atlanta, GA (Co-Founder of Road Safe America) | Speed Limiters: Steve’s son Cullum was killed by a tractor-trailer on December 1, 2002, in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Cullum and his younger brother Pierce were on their way back to Washington and Lee University after spending Thanksgiving at home. They were stopped in traffic when a speeding tractor-trailer came up behind them. Cullum tried to swerve his car into the median, but the truck barreled into the driver’s side of his car, pinning Cullum and Pierce’s car against an embankment in the median. Pierce, survived with minor injuries while Cullum died before he could be retrieved from the car.

Wanda Lindsay, New Braunfels, TX (Founder of the John Lindsay Foundation) | Sleep Apnea Screening: Wanda and her husband John were on their way to Kentucky to visit family on May 7, 2010, when they stopped for traffic on I-30 as they were coming into Texarkana, Texas. They were the last car stopped in a two mile-long, very visible line of traffic, in a well-marked construction zone when a Celadon tractor-trailer slammed into the rear of their car. The truck was traveling 65 mph with the cruise control engaged when it hit John and Wanda. John died two days later on Mother’s Day, as a result of his extensive injuries. The Lindsay family later learned that two months prior to the collision the truck driver had been diagnosed with severe, uncontrolled sleep apnea, which results in chronic fatigue. Yet, he was still allowed to drive a truck even though he was not being treated and monitored for his condition.

Ron Wood, Washington, DC | Entry-Level Driver Training: On September 20, 2004, Ron’s mother Betsy Wood, sister Lisa Wood Martin and his sister’s three children, Chance, Brock and Reid Martin, were killed outside Sherman, Texas when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed a median into oncoming traffic on a busy North Texas highway. The driver collided with two vehicles, killing a total of ten people and injuring two more.  The truck driver eventually pleaded guilty to 10 counts of manslaughter in the 2004 crash. This crash prompted a Dallas Morning News investigative team to begin a fourteen month-long exploration that revealed unqualified drivers, dangerous working conditions, lack of safety inspections, and very little oversight.

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