Tag Archives: driver fatigue

The anger and frustration in the aftermath of a truck crash are not easily resolved.

UPDATE August 2, 2016. PLEASE sign & share the Petition to President Obama to appoint an advocate — a Traffic Safety Ombudsman — to fight for safer roads:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/

So what does a person do with the anger and frustration which inevitably surface in the aftermath of a truck/car crash fatality (or case of serious life-altering injuries)?

That’s what I would like to know because I have experienced it and have observed others — in similar situations — dealing with it as well. And it is not your normal grief (if anything can be called that). Because, in addition to the loss one has experienced, one also often discovers that perhaps the loss was unnecessary — but nothing (or too little or too late) was done to prevent it. Imagine your reaction to that situation.

Then too often one might discover that, not only was nothing done in the past that could have prevented one’s loss, but, on top of that, there continues to be nothing tangible done to prevent future crash fatalities and serious injuries. What then? How would you deal with the feelings upon that realization?!

Indeed, despite decades of safety advocacy efforts to draw attention to the problem of traffic crash fatalities, too little too late is being done to move us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.

When I saw a Tweet the other day quoting Senator Chris Murphy as saying that survivors of the Orlando mass shooting experienced a “second layer of grief” “when they realize that those who expressed sympathy won’t take action,” I could relate to it.

And besides which, it turns into not just a matter of struggling with trying to forgive but an intense conviction that there is a good chance that wrongdoing was involved. Wrongdoing for which there is apparently no genuine accountability or liability. Because if there were, then wouldn’t we see change?

Just yesterday, I read a facebook post by a man who had lost his wife in a truck crash and whose son became permanently disabled from that same crash. Most days, the dad is upbeat and handling the hardship of his new life with grace. But at that moment, it seemed like he was experiencing the straw that broke the camel’s back. He confessed that, at that moment, he was feeling anger towards and hatred for the truck driver responsible for the crash.

The truth is that, probably in most truck crashes (and other traffic-related crashes), there usually are multiple factors which have led to the initial collision as well as the final outcome. And the sad fact is that, too often, the tragedy could have been avoided.

Our Crash Was Not An Accident

Are we doing enough, as a nation, to work on solutions to those things which could be prevented? I don’t think so and I have been calling for our leaders to adopt a National Vision Zero Goal, to set up a National Vision Zero Task Force, to adopt Vision Zero rulemaking policies, and to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman.

SIGN THE PETITIONhttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/

The opposition to the requirement and manufacture of the safest possible underride protection on trucks is an example of something which could have been taken care of a long time ago but instead is a problem for which there has not been a truly effective solution–in fact it seems to have been deliberately opposed or at least not made a priority to get to the bottom of and resolve.

A few days ago, I went on a walk in the woods and shared my thoughts spontaneously on this matter:

Do these situations make it harder to arrive at the forgiveness discussed by one writer? Forgiveness is one thing. But when there is no tangible change, and my button is repeatedly pushed, then, of course, frustration and therefore anger wells up over and over again. And that certainly is not healthy–not for the victim’s family and not for those whose actions contributed to the deaths.

Trucker in Massive Rig Destroys Two Families in His Sleep

Mom Takes on Truckers After Highway Wreck Kills Daughters

I wrote about what it was like to face the truck driver whose actions led to our daughters’ deaths: The Court Hearing; Update On Our Trip To Georgia

Now I am struggling with this question for myself: Can my anger at the injustice of criminal negligence (as well as the continued inadequate resolution of countless Traffic Safety Issues) ever be fully resolved if the negligence is not acknowledged, punished, or made right?

Meanwhile, I keep pressing on seeking to make the roads safer — as in our pursuit of better underride guards and my hopes of organizing a Tired Trucker Roundtable.

John Ball Zoo
How am I supposed to stop being angry as long the problems which caused the deaths of AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) — and shattered our family — continue on?

FMCSA ANPRM re: Eval. of Truck Drivers for Sleep Apnea; Public Comment Period ends 7/8/16

Take advantage of the opportunity to comment on FMCSA’s rulemaking — extended through July 8, 2016, on this Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for Moderate-to-Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea A Proposed Rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration on 03/10/2016

Tired Trucker Roundtable

Make a comment here: Federal Register: regulations.gov on sleep apnea & truck drivers

Out-of-control. Regrettable actions. Broken lives. Irreversible tragedies.

The recent widespread discussion in social media about the actions of a young man after partying  has triggered my distress at the thought of the regrettable actions by drunk, drugged, distracted, and drowsy drivers every day.

Do we really grasp the way that these things impair us and change our ability to act sensibly, responsibly–the way we might if we were “in our right mind”?

What does it lead to (whether intended or not)? Out-of-control. Regrettable actions. Broken lives. Irreversible tragedies.

Surely there are better ways for us to deal with the stress, pain, fear, frustration, and boredom in our lives.  I mean, what are we doing to ourselves? Has it become socially acceptable to mess up our own lives as well as those around us?

What can I do about it? What can you do about it? Surely we can work together to find ways to end these senseless, preventable tragedies–on and off the road.

 

Ex-astronaut charged with murder in car wreck that killed 2

Impaired Driving

Irreversible & Regrettable

I propose a Tired Trucker Roundtable to more comprehensively address driver fatigue crashes.

After the truck crash which killed AnnaLeah and Mary, we never saw the truck driver’s paper log books and he was not able to tell us why he hit us. We suspect that drowsy driving may well have played a part. But it is a very difficult thing to prove.

I can’t go back and re-do that day and make sure that truck driver is fully alert throughout his entire work day on the road–especially that stretch of I-20 in Georgia near Exit 130. But I can advocate for the widespread public health problem of driver fatigue to be recognized and tackled.

Tired Trucker Roundtable

I am soooo tired of the political tug-of-war over truck driver hours of service. It isn’t solving the basic problem, folks. And the problem isn’t going to go away if there is no change in how it is addressed.

Just like with the deadly underride issue, we need to gather together people and organizations from all over the board, including truckers, truck companies, sleep doctors, regulatory officials from DOT and the Department of Labor and CDC’s Department of Injury Prevention, sleep researchers, safety advocates, and victims of tired trucker crashes.

At this life-changing event, let’s communicate about every possible factor which can contribute to drowsy driving–including, but most certainly not limited to, the truckers’ hours of service on the job and research on driver fatigue. And then, let’s brainstorm together about how this Goliath can be conquered through collaborative strategies and solutions.

A Tired Trucker Roundtable. Now that would be worthy of shouting, “Awesome!” Eh, Mary?!

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Vision Zero collaborative creativity can achieve amazzzzing results!

 

Truck Driver Fatigue: a problem with deadly results deserves nat’l priority status

FMCSA and FRA to Host Public Listening Sessions on Obstructive Sleep Apnea among Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers and Rail Workers – See more at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/fmcsa-and-fra-host-public-listening-sessions-obstructive-sleep-apnea-among-commercial-motor#sthash.0ekKDOVU.dpuf:

May 12, Washington, D.C.

May 17, Chicago

May 25, Los Angeles

There are many factors which may contribute to driver fatigue–sleep apnea is one, along with the pressure to reach a destination and put many hours on the road in order to make a living (wage compensation), not to mention the monotony of long hours on the road.

Articles on truck driver fatigue:

Sleep apnea is one problem that needs attention. But to take the problem of truck driver fatigue seriously, we need to cover all the bases. http://annaleahmary.com/driver-fatigue/

Driving While Fatigued

President Obama, please establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force to address deadly truck driver fatigue, along with many other traffic safety issues: Letter to President Obama from the Karth Family

Life & Death Traffic Safety Problems Deserve Proper Treatment: Not Political Tug-of-War Game!

Same old/same old: Senate Prepares To Make Truck Safety Even Worse, Advocates Warn

No matter who causes a truck crash, the victims pay the price. This country needs to understand that there is a better way to resolve traffic safety problems than through a political tug-of-war!
 
After my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), were killed in a truck crash almost three years ago on May 4, 2013, I have had my eyes opened and would like others to listen to what I have to say.
 
We can do better than continue to put our heads in the sand and think that these horrific, preventable, tragic deaths will go away by handling these problems the same old way.
What is being done now to address traffic safety issues is just not working: Senate Prepares To Make Truck Safety Even Worse, Advocates Warn
 
If you could walk in my shoes (and those of the hundreds of thousands of other Americans who have lost loved ones this way) and bear the unnecessary grief on a daily basis, then you might be able to understand the frustration of knowing that something better could be done about this–but ISN’T.
 

Are you listening, Congress, everyone involved in the trucking industry and traffic safety advocacy, and especially, right now, President Obama?!

Life & Death Traffic Safety Problems Deserve Proper Treatment: Not Political Tug-of-War Game!

AnnaLeah & Mary, we miss you so much!

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Marcus and Vanessa & the memorial bricks

Towards Zero: There’s no one someone won’t miss.

Comment on Huffington Post article

Life & Death Traffic Safety Problems Deserve Proper Treatment: Not Political Tug-of-War Game!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Life & death traffic safety problems deserve to be handled appropriately and not like some political tug-of-war game played by industry lobbyists, administrators, and legislators!

I have offered what seems to me to be a reasonable alternative when I petitioned President Obama to resolve our national traffic safety travesty in this way:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal (which would serve to raise national awareness and direct national priorities with the goal in mind of doing everything possible to move our country ever closer to zero crash deaths & serious injuries).
  2. Establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force to address these traffic safety problems in an interdisciplinary, non-political manner.
  3. Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order to pave the way for Vision Zero Rulemaking that could truly make Saving Lives a priority rather than an afterthought.

See more here about this ongoing problem & my recommended solution:

  1. An ongoing battle over trucker hours of service and its impact on truck driver fatigue and inevitably fatal crashes is addressed in two recent articles: Maine Voices: In the long haul, tired truck drivers result in hazardous highways and Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.
  2. I wrote about the congressional truck safety legislation fiasco here: “Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.” and, of course, here we have addressed the driver fatigue problem at length on our website: Driver Fatigue on annaleahmary.com
  3. We delivered over 20,000 Vision Zero Petition signatures to Washington, DC, on March 5, 2016, in the form of a book which we distributed to key leaders asking for bottomline change and a major paradigm shift in how all traffic safety problems are addressed: Tell Obama you are standing with us in this: “Family Continues Fight for Trucking Safety”

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“Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.”

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?

Do it, President Obama, for We the People of this United States of America! #VisionZero

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:

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

Driving While FatiguedUnderride kills

Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy

End Driver Fatigue: Illinois State Police conduct 1650+ truck inspections during “OPERATION SAUTER”

Motor vehicle inspections should be done this thoroughly on a regular basis–not just one day. Monitoring and enforcement plays a big role in preventing crashes due to truck driver fatigue–an ongoing problem. Illinois State Police conduct over 1650 inspections during “OPERATION SAUTER”

And it should be done in every state. Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

Driving While Fatigued

Somebody has to take personal responsibility & be accountable for the danger of the trucking industry.

“At some point, somebody has to take personal responsibility & be accountable for the danger of this industry. More truck drivers are killed on the job than any other occupation. More than 500 truck drivers are killed every year in truck crashes. . . I don’t know any other industry where that’s allowed .  .  . and people are looking the other way.

“We need to have this prosecuted at the industry or company level, because that’s where the problem lies. . . The industry drives them harder and longer than they should. The result is catastrophic death and injury all across the country

“If we could get a change in some of the laws. . . to the point where company executives are criminally responsible for the violations of their drivers’ Hours of Service, you would see a lot of things change in the industry. You might see some changes that are long overdue,”  says Jeff Burns, Truck Litigation Attorney.

Jeff Burns, National Transportation Counsel for the Truck Safety Coaltion, discusses the issue of truck crash prosecutions and the challenges facing victims of truck crashes. Prosecutors across the country are choosing not to prosecute those responsible for deadly truck crashes. Furthermore, drivers and companies are facing only minimal fines, much less than a speeding motorist, for reckless driving that results in an accident and/or death. Visit www.trucksafety.org for more information on how you can help in the fight to make our highways safer for everyone. June 14, 2011

Some previous posts which I have written on the issues of justice related to truck crashes:

Responsibility