STATEMENT of TAMMY HUFFMAN (Michigan)
On behalf of the TRUCK SAFETY COALITION (TSC)
Press Conference on Safety Deficiencies of the
Surface Transportation Investment Act (S.2016)
July 20, 2021
Good morning, my name is Tammy Huffman. On May 6, 2013, my brother in-law, my husband’s twin brother, Tim Huffman, was killed by a distracted semitruck driver with a truck that was not equipped with AEB. Tim was a decorated war veteran with 3 tours in Iraq and had served as a military police officer. He came back to the States and wanted to continue to serve his country with a servant’s heart- he became an Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer and planned to retire at the end of that year. He was serving his country the day he was killed. Tim was my kids’ second dad. We all loved him very much and miss him every day.
On the day of his preventable death, there were multiple emergency personnel on the roadway who were on-scene for an injury accident involving an elderly person. He was in his patrol car writing an accident report on the Interstate when the truck driver’s 18-wheeler caused the multi-vehicle pileup.
A county sheriff came to my door that night I immediately thought something happened to my son who was serving overseas. When he said something about Tim… I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even say anything. As a mom of five I always have words. In this moment, I was silent – the news took all the air out of my lungs.
We later found out the semitruck driver was on Facebook looking at pictures of women at the time of the wreck. His distracted driving was reckless and irresponsible, but we later also found out that the semitruck was not equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), a collision avoidance technology that has been proven to reduce crashes and mitigate the severity of collisions. The crash and subsequent collisions created a wreckage of vehicles that stretched about a mile long – all of which could have been prevented if the truck was equipped with AEB. It breaks my heart knowing that Tim could be with us today if AEB was on that truck. It is unconscionable that this widely available technology is not standard on all trucks.
To this day, watching my children struggle with their Uncle’s death has been one of the hardest things I could ever endure. It has changed the trajectory of their lives. All my children have chosen careers of service to honor Tim. Tim can’t speak for himself anymore. We must be the voice for him. I try to be positive and not let the negative take me over. Until this happens to you, you can’t understand that impact. I live and breathe it every day. Every. Single. Day.
My husband was a high school softball coach at the time of his twin brother’s death. He came home the day Tim died and said he was hit in the chest by a softball. He was hit at around the same time Tim was hit by that semitruck. He later told me he felt his brother pass, the twin bond between them broken. Now on their birthday, my sweet husband eats two pieces of cake to honor his brother. On Christmas, we set an extra plate for Tim. The kids are always the first to say not to forget to set one for Tim. We miss him every day. I am here today to speak for Tim, for my family and for all roadway users. We must have safety provisions like Universal AEB in place to avoid these preventable tragedies. Thank you.