Today, I was taken by surprise when I got a phone call from Clifton Parker, President/CEO of G & P Trucking Company. He was responding to the letter which a bereaved dad (Jerry) sent to him — asking him to make sure that the trailers, which his company uses, have the strongest possible rear underride guards.
First of all, Mr. Parker told me how sorry he was about our loss of AnnaLeah and Mary. Then he told me several times how the letter had impacted him and how he wanted us to know that our appeal was not falling on deaf ears.
He then told me in great depth how in the last 24 hours since he received our letter, he had made the decision to send back the trailers which they had been renting from the companies which have not yet voluntarily stepped up and improved their rear underride guards. He had gone out in his yard and looked at the trailers and intends to follow-through and have his company figure out which trailers could be retrofitted to get stronger rear underride guards, including trailers with damaged guards — as well as making sure that new purchases have safer rear underride guards.
Jerry has written letters to trucking companies in the past with good results. Recently, he decided that it was time to contact some more companies. When we were traveling, we started making note of trailers produced by the four major manufacturers, who have not yet voluntarily stepped up to the challenge to offer better rear underride guards–Great Dane, Hyundai, Strick, and Utility. We would also write down the name of the trucking company (on the tractor) which was pulling that trailer and then we wrote them a letter.
Here is the letter which we sent to Clifton Parker earlier this week), Letter to G & P Trucking 2017 ,
including this excerpt:
We have been told that the initial correspondence which we sent, in early 2014, to the major trailer manufacturers, as well as to transport companies like Crete Carrier, has spurred three of the eight major trailer manufacturers—Wabash, Vanguard, and Stoughton—to design a new underride guard which surpasses the present U.S. and Canadian standards. A fourth, Manac, had already improved their guard a short time before our fatal underride crash. . .
We have observed that G & P Trucking is utilizing 1,500 trailers – at least some of them from Utility, who has not yet stepped up to the new de facto standards that are now in existence for the underride guard. This leaves your company in the position of having a liability exposure due to the trailers which you are presently utilizing. We are writing to encourage you to consider replacing your fleet of trailers from one of the four companies, who have voluntarily upgraded their trailers to safer standards.
Along with the letter, we included a hard copy of the IIHS Status Report which reported on our crash and on the weakness which IIHS had found in the current federal regulations for rear underride guards.
I cannot adequately describe to you what it meant to me to have Mr. Parker express his reaction and resulting actions upon reading the letter from our family — and to take the time to call us. He encouraged us to keep doing what we were doing, to keep making the industry safe.
If you would like to do join us in thanking Clifton Parker, you can write him at this address:
Clifton Parker, President
G & P Trucking
126 Access Road
Gaston, South Carolina 29053
And you can help us inform other trucking companies in the same way — because raising awareness seems to be making a big difference. Simply write down the manufacturer name on trailers which you see — like Great Dane, Hyundai, Strick, and Utility — and the name of the trucking company as marked on the tractor. Send that information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to them yourself.