Every year, thousands of Americans suffer fatal injuries from truck crashes. Each one of those victims could leave behind dozens of family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors who are affected by a preventable tragedy.
This week, the Truck Safety Coalition hosted a Sorrow to Strength conference.
Truck crash survivors, and the families and friends of those killed in truck crashes, gathered to talk to members of Congress about improving truck safety.
Check out #SorrowtoStrength on Twitter to see what happened at this week’s conference.
One of the hardest things I do in my law practice is meet with the family of someone who’s been killed in a crash.
Families often struggle after these tragedies, and feel helpless to solve the problems that led to their loss. It’s inspiring to see families who’ve suffered these losses band together and take action in an effort to make U.S. roads and highways safer.
Here are the trucking safety issues these families are asking Congress to address.
1. Preventing an increase in truck size and weight
Trucks that carry two loads can haul two 28-foot trailers–or, around 80,000 pounds. Some trucking groups are pushing Congress to change that rule, and allow two 33-foot trailers—an extra 11,000 pounds per load.
2. Raising the minimum insurance
The federal government sets a “floor”: a minimum amount of insurance coverage commercial trucks must carry.
This minimum is meant to ensure that the trucking companies— not by the injured persons or the taxpayers—cover the medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses from truck crashes.
That insurance minimum hasn’t been adjusted for inflation since Ronald Reagan was President.
Meanwhile, costs have increased dramatically. The truck insurance minimum should have been tied to the rate of inflation decades ago.
3. Implement crash avoidance systems
Crash-avoidance braking is a standard safety feature on almost all new cars … but not on heavy tractor-trailers, which can weigh 20-30 times more than a car, and take much longer to stop.
All heavy trucks should have crash-avoidance braking systems by now.
4. Restore Hours of Service rules to prevent truck driver fatigue
In 2013, Congress made progress on this problem with new Hours of Service (HOS) rules requiring a 34-hour restart period, and a 30-minute break every 8 hours.
Last year, those HOS rules were suspended.
Right now, truckers can to drive up to 11 hours in a 14-hour workday. That is a dangerously demanding schedule. The Truck Safety Coalition is asking Congress to return to the 2013 rules.
5. Improving truck underride guards
Underride guards are basically steel bars on the back or sides of tractor-trailers. They are designed to prevent passenger vehicles from sliding under the trailer during a collision.
Support the Truck Safety Coalition
Sign their petition to Congress—and then tell your Senators and Representatives that keeping our public roads as safe as possible is important.