Sign Our Petition
Signing this Petition will:
- Alert President Obama and other leaders that action is needed to reduce highway deaths.
- Prompt political leaders to limit truck speeds by mandating use of speed governors.
- Show national support for the use of safety technology on heavy commercial vehicles.
Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Dear Mr. President, Mr. Vice-President, Transportation Secretary, Senators, Members of Congress and other concerned leaders:
Imagine two fully loaded airliners crashing each month, killing every passenger. That would amount to 5,000 annual fatalities, which equals the average number of American lives lost each year for the past decade due to collisions involving heavy commercial trucks. In addition, over 100,000 motorists are injured each year. It is sad that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not receive the same level of attention as the Federal Aviation Administration. An even sadder fact is that many of these collisions, deaths, and injuries could have been avoided with technologies that are commonplace in other technologically-advanced nations.
I join other supporters in asking you to enact the following commonsense measures aimed at preventing untold injuries and saving innumerable lives:
- Require that all Class 7 and Class 8 motor vehicles (those that weigh more than 13 tons), manufactured since 1992 (the first year that speed limiters became standard on all heavy commercial trucks) set their top speed at 65 mph or slower.
- Require the use of electronic on-board recorders, with GPS capability to accurately and automatically record drive time, location, etc.
- Improve working conditions for truckers through anti-fatigue measures and safer methods of compensation.
- Index insurance requirements for trucking companies to keep up with inflation (requirements have not been increased since 1980).
- Take steps to encourage/require the use of the amazingly effective safety technologies currently available thereby limiting the crashes caused by human error.
These proposals are not anti-trucking—to the contrary, they are simply pro-safety. In fact, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and many leading trucking companies are working with us on these problems. As trucking professionals carry out the vital task of supplying America, we effectively entrust them with the safety of all of our friends, family, and loved ones who drive on America's roads. Please enable these hard-working drivers to do their jobs more safely.
Road Safe America and the pro-safety Americans who are in support of safer trucking requirements.
Sadly the United States lags the technologically advanced world in this area. The European Union, Japan, Australia and the most populous Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) all require speed limiters (i.e. governors) to be set on heavy commercial vehicles at speeds varying from 55 mph in Japan to 65 mph in Canada. This commonsense requirement simply keeps these heavy vehicles, which need roughly 3 times the distance to stop, as the smaller vehicles with which they share the road, at a top speed that gives them a chance to stop or nearly stop, in the same distance as other vehicles. The use of the speed governors more than pay for themselves as they save approximately 6 gallons of fuel per day per truck on average, limit the liability costs of the trucking companies and extend the life of equipment (brakes, tires, and engines all last longer). NOTE: All heavy commercial trucks manufactured since 1992 come equipped with electronic speed limiters as standard equipment so there is no capital expense to do this.
Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs)
It is difficult to think of any serious business measure which is tracked today in technologically-advanced countries, and not tracked electronically. There are two reasons why we track things electronically: first, it is less expense than manually tracking things; and second, it is more accurate. A recent study shows that roughly 50% of the trucks on our highways already use EOBRs. They have been shown to pay for themselves, reducing overall operational costs by as much as 5.5%. These units cost less than a tank of fuel and can help to ensure that drivers are not allowed to, or made to, drive longer than the legal 11 hour-per-day limit.
Studies indicate that since the 11th hour of drive time has been added, the number of drivers who admit falling asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days has risen to one-out-of-five. It is crucial that we not only use electronic on-board recorders to ensure that excessive drive time is not occurring, but also require sleep apnea screening as part of the medical exam for truck drivers. Studies show that a disproportionately high percentage of truck drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. This not only prevents them from resting properly, it also makes them subject to numerous medical ailments, including a much higher risk of heart attack. We MUST have healthy, well-rested truck drivers in this country if we expect to have improved safety in this area.
If a group of students was given an assignment to come up with the least safe way to pay truck drivers, they could hardly come up with a better method than what is used on US highways. The vast majority of trucks drivers are paid by the mile. Clearly the incentives are all wrong in terms of safety with this pay mode. A reasonable argument can be made that truck drivers have at least as much responsibility for public safety as do airline pilots. After all, we buy tickets to get on airplanes, yet we are all around heavy commercial vehicles travelling at high speeds on our highways involuntarily on a daily basis. It is crucial that these hard-working truck drivers, who shoulder so much responsibility, be paid a professional's wage, commensurate with that responsibility, for every hour worked plus overtime. The overtime exemption for truck drivers which dates from the 1930s is unacceptable in today’s environment. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to think of a profession that you would more want to get overtime than truck drivers.
When the trucking industry was de-regulated in 1980, part of the justification to remove the regulation was the requirement for $750,000 of liability insurance per crash for each interstate carrier. Incredibly, that amount which undoubtedly seemed like a huge number at the time has never been increased even once in the last 30 years. Truck companies can get into this inherently dangerous business by filling out a form requesting a Department of Transportation (DOT) number, which costs about $300, and getting an insurance policy for $750,000 of liability per crash. The barriers to get into this very dangerous business must be raised! Can you imagine if you could get into the airline business with this sort of minimal requirement?
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study clearly showed that human error is the most frequent contributor to heavy commercial vehicle crashes. Please encourage our leaders to provide tax incentives to encourage the proliferation of amazing safety technologies already available. These include forward collision warning systems with active braking and electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control with active braking, lane departure warning systems, etc.