If you are at all concerned about the possibility of you, or someone you know, being in a truck crash, READ this Huffington Post (April 16, 2016) article: Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.
Here is a comment on the article from the Advocates for Auto & Highway Safety:
This is a terrific expose by Huffington Post that appeared in yesterday’s edition about the growing influence of special trucking interests in their continuing efforts to roll back truck safety rules including hours of service (HOS) and bypass the authorizing committees by using the Appropriations Committees. . . We learned on Friday that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee will likely take up the FY2017 transportation funding bill on Tuesday with full Appropriations Committee mark-up on Thursday. . . We anticipate that the trucking industry will continue to try to block going back to the Obama Administration hours of service rule with more language and several states are seeking truck size and weight exemptions.
This is a very lengthy article which, for the most part, delves into the problem of truck driver fatigue (and the horrific, often fatal, crashes which all too often occur) and the pressure that the trucking industry continues to put on Congress with the result of making our roads less safe instead of more safe.
Please read and share this very informative article. It needs to be heard.
It only serves to emphasize the importance of our call for President Obama to set a National Vision Zero Goal, establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and sign a Vision Zero Executive Order. Are you listening, President Obama?
Here are some of the topics which this tell-it-like-it-is article covers:
There were several other industry requests in that funding bill for 2016, including a measure that aimed to extend the suspension of sleep rules that Collins had won just six months earlier. Her suspension lasted a year and required regulators to look into the effectiveness of requiring two nights of sleep and whether there was any case for the trucking industry’s position. But rather than see that process through, the new provision changed the study mid-stream and called for gathering even more data — including the regulation’s impact on the longevity of drivers. Studying workers’ lifespans, of course, takes entire lifespans. That provision was signed into law with the 2016 spending bill that ultimately passed.
“They just basically want to stall this forever,” said Rep. David Price (N.C.), the top Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that deals with transportation.
Another measure the industry pushed last year aimed to short-circuit federal regulators’ efforts to evaluate raising insurance requirements for trucking companies. Currently, carriers have to maintain the same $750,000 policies they did in the ‘80s. The industry’s argument is that independent operators would not be able to afford higher premiums — and indeed, DND’s margins were so close it shut down when its insurance company raised rates after the Balder crash. The industry argues that 99 percent of truck accidents do not generate such high damages. But $750,000 doesn’t begin to cover the costs a serious semi wreck incurs. For instance, a widower whose wife was killed and children severely injured by a dozing driver in 2010 won $41 million in damages. The family of James McNair, the comedian who died in the Tracy Morgan crash, settled for $10 million in March last year. A somewhat weakened version of the measure did pass, requiring regulators to evaluate a number of different factors before they adjust the insurance requirements.
Another industry-backed provision aimed to hide the BASIC safety measurements for trucking companies from public view, and bar their use in lawsuits. The lawsuit provision was dropped from the spending bill during negotiations, but the BASIC scores were in fact hidden and removed from the agency’s website. The industry used a Government Accountability Office study that found the safety system could do better in some respects to justify its position, but the two firms involved in the Velasquez crash had exactly the sort of poor safety scores that the BASIC system predicts make them more likely to be involved in accidents.
Despite the fact that these provisions will likely have an impact on the safety of nearly 11 million large trucks registered in America, they were all buried in legislation that Congress had to pass to avoid a government shutdown, with little to no debate about whether they were a good idea.
“The advocates of relaxing the rules or eliminating the rules, they see that and think this is their train to catch. … Not just wait on the normal process, or count on something as pedestrian as actual hearings or discussion, but to make a summary judgement and latch it on to an appropriations bill,” Price said.
There’s something else all the industry-backed measures have in common: They are deeply unpopular.
The article focused on a truck crash in which a tired trucker plowed into the back of a State Trooper’s Crown Vic while he was on the side of a tollway assisting another trucker. Not exactly our circumstance, but made me tense up just reading about it. See our Crown Vic here: