Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, health and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America's roads safer.

Advocates encourages the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that save lives and reduce injuries. By joining its resources with others, Advocates helps build coalitions to increase participation of a wide array of groups in public policy initiatives which advance highway and auto safety.
 

June 25, 2015

 

STATEMENT OF JACKIE GILLAN,
PRESIDENT OF ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY
ON SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF THE FY 2016 TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
APPROPRIATIONS BILL
 
Today, our highways became more deadly and our families less safe because of actions by the Senate Appropriations Committee in agreeing to adopt anti-truck safety provisions as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill. If these provisions become law, next summer, millions of families in every state will be sharing the road with monster-sized trucks because of the success of special interests in rolling back important safety laws and rules.
 
The bill is a lethal assault on public safety by special trucking interests and completely disregards the existing and growing carnage on our highways caused by oversized trucks. Several provisions in the appropriations bill put corporate trucking interests in the driver’s seat and abandoned public safety on the side of the road. All of these safety rollbacks will significantly alter national transportation policy yet none has ever been the subject of a single congressional hearing, safety analysis or public review.
 
In addition to the continuation of the Tired Trucker pilot program sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in last year’s spending bill currently allowing truck drivers to work and drive as many as 82 hours a week, the trucking industry’s anti-safety agenda was championed by others. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) shepherded through the “FedEx Double 33s” amendment which will force all states to allow dangerous and deadly 33-foot double trailer trucks on their roads jeopardizing the safety of all road users. This amendment passed on a 16-14 vote along party lines with the exceptions of Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) voting for the FedEx amendment and Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) voting against it. 
 
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Udall (D-NM) offered a counter amendment which would have allowed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct an open and public rulemaking after the Secretary determines the safety and infrastructure consequences of increasing the size large trucks. Safety lost to special trucking interests when this commonsense and transparent approach was rejected by a vote of 15 to 15 with support from all Democratic Senators except for Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) with Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voting for it. 
 
Provisions in this bill ignore the emotional and economic devastation of large truck crashes on our roads and highways and strong public opinion. Over the past five years alone (2009-2013), fatalities from large truck crashes have increased by 17% and injuries have increased by 28%. Every year, on average, there are 4,000 people killed and 100,000 more injured in large truck crashes which is equivalent to a major airplane crash every week of the year. Yet, rather than Congress taking steps to address this significant safety problem, the bill in fact goes the opposite direction – granting a trucking industry’s “wish list” of provisions that will result in oversized and overweight trucks being driven by overworked truck drivers. 
 
Safety groups, labor, law enforcement, truck crash victims and survivors, and others will continue to fight to remove these provisions from the bill. We also call on President Obama to veto this transportation spending bill if it includes these anti-safety measures. This bill simultaneously underfunds our roads and bridges and imposes unacceptable costs on families everywhere by causing more crashes, more deaths, more injuries and more infrastructure damage.
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June 22, 2015
  
 
CONTACT: Bill Bronrott, 202-270-4415 and bronrott@gmail.com
 
MEDIA ADVISORY
 
Truck crash victims, law enforcement, safety advocates to join Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) as Senate is poised to consider dangerous special interest riders including “Double 33 Trailers” and “Tired Truckers” provisions passed by House in FY 2016 transportation spending bill
 
WHAT:          NEWS CONFERENCE to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to stop the unprecedented assault on truck safety led by large trucking company lobbyists who used backdoor maneuvers to slip several anti-truck safety provisions into the FY 2016 transportation spending bill (HR 2577) narrowly approved by the House on June 9.
 
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) will mark up the Senate’s FY 2016 transportation appropriations bill on Tuesday, June 23 and the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday, June 25.  News conference speakers will call on the Senate committee to reject these stealth riders that made it into the House bill without any hearings, public input or evaluation of the impacts of these rollbacks on safety and the nation’s roads and bridges.
 
WHEN:          Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 2:30pm
 
WHERE:        U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) Room 208, Washington, D.C.
 
WHO:           
  • Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a leading voice for improved commercial motor vehicle safety. On June 18, Senator Blumenthal and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations leadership urging them to reject any effort to legalize double 33-foot trailers on the nation’s highways.
  • Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
  • Fred McLuckie, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • Andy Matthews, Chairman of the National Troopers Coalition, which represents 42,000 State Troopers from 41 states around the country, and President of the Connecticut State Police Union.
  • Lisa Shrum of Fayette, Missouri, whose mother Virginia Baker and stepfather Randy Baker were killed in a crash on October 10, 2006, involving a FedEx double trailer truck. Lisa is a victim advocate with the Truck Safety Coalition.
  • Ed Slattery of Lutherville, Maryland. On August 16, 2010, Ed’s wife Susan was killed and their two sons, Peter and Matthew, were severely injured when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of a triple-trailer truck on the Ohio Turnpike, forcing them into the semi-trailer ahead. Matthew suffered massive head trauma, and is permanently disabled. Ed is a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers.
  • Officer Robert Mills, Fort Worth (TX) Police Department, one of the nation’s leading commercial motor vehicle safety law enforcement experts.
 
BACKGROUND:
  • The safety rollbacks, repeals and exemptions in the House-passed transportation spending bill (HR 2577) would result in more overweight and oversized trucks driven by overworked and overtired truckers across the nation at the cost of more death and traumatic injury by:
    • Forcing states to allow FedEx double 33-foot trailers throughout the country, taking away a state’s right to set trailer lengths. 39 states currently prohibit double 33 tractor-trailer combinations, which are at least 84 feet in length – the height of an 8-story building.
    • Permanently increasing truck driver working and driving hours up to 82 hours per week and killing the “weekend off” for two nights of restorative rest.
    • Defunding a public rulemaking underway at the Department of Transportation that is reviewing and assessing if minimum insurance requirements for trucks and passenger-carrying buses are adequate. They have not been changed since 1985.
    • Giving special interest carve outs to increase the current federal truck weight limits from 80,000 lbs. up to 129,000 lbs. in Idaho, raise truck lengths in Kansas and possibly additional state exemptions that could be offered during Committee mark-up that would further damage already-crumbling roads and bridges and rollback safety.
KEY FACTS:
  • Every year 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured, on average, in truck crashes.
  • Large truck crash fatalities increased 17% from 2009 through 2013 while total traffic fatalities declined by 3%.
  • The number of people injured in large truck crashes increased 28% from 2009 through 2013 while the number of people injured in all traffic crashes increased by only 4%.
  • In fatal two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger motor vehicle, 96% of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes cost our nation $99 billion annually.
 
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Please click here for background material on the provisions and here for the written statements of each speaker.


June 17, 2015
Illinois Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution Opposing Increases to Federal Truck Size and Weight Limits. State Action Comes as U.S. Senate is Poised to Consider Transportation Spending Bill as Likely Vehicle for Anti-Truck Safety "Riders"
Please click here for the full press release.

June 9, 2015
Advocates joins Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and other safety advocates to push for passage of the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 1181), a comprehensive bill that would address critical safety needs.
Please click here for the press release and here for the support letter for H.R. 1181.
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May 13, 2015
Family Members of Truck Crash Victims, Law Enforcement, Labor and Safety Groups Urge Congress to Stop Pandering to Trucking Interests and Start Paying Attention to Public Safety and Public Opinion.  
Please click here for the full press kit.

May 11, 2015
MEDIA ADVISORY: Families of those killed in truck crashes join safety advocates and law enforcement to urge Congress to stop assault on truck safety in House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016. Special interests seek to rollback major safety laws with deadly consequences including overtired truckers, FedEx double 33 foot tractor trailers, exemptions to truck weight and length laws, and delayed rulemaking. Press conference to be held Wednesday, May 13 at 12:00 p.m EST in the Senate Commerce Committee Room, Russell Senate Office Building 253.
Please click here for the full media advisory.

April 28, 2015
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Truck crash victims and safety advocates available for interview April 29, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. on assault on national truck safety in Congress. House Highways and Transit Subcommittee hearing on "Future of Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety" - but NO truck crash victims or safety groups invited to participate. Hearing held on the same day that the House Transportation Appropriations bill, which is a complete attack on truck safety, will be marked-up. 
Please click here for the media availability alert.

February 19, 2015
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety joins the Truck Safety Coalition, the Center for Auto Safety, and Road Safe America in filing a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requesting that the agency initiate rulemaking to require forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking systems on all new large trucks and buses. As deaths and injuries from truck crashes continue to rise, it is time for the U.S. DOT to issue the rule on this lifesaving technology.
Please click here for the petition and here for the press release.

January 22, 2015
The 2015 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws is now available.
For the full report, click the photo below.
For the full electronic press kit, please click here.


December 8, 2014
Press conference on Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:30 a.m. EST
Congress is considering a major change to federal regulations that will dramatically increase the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week from 70 to 82 hours. Families of truck crash victims, Teamsters, and safety advocates join Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) to urge Congress to stop this attack on truck safety.
Please click here for the entire electronic press packet.

December 3, 2014
Congress poised to increase truck driver hours of service in aftermath of Tracy Morgan truck crash. Truck crash victims and survivors, public health and safety groups and truck drivers urge Congress to stop assault on truck safety in government funding bill.
Please click here for the letter and here for the press release.
Please click here for the letter from U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx.

December 2, 2014
Truck crash families, public health and safety, labor, environment, and consumer groups oppose assault on truck safety in government funding bill.
Please click here for the letter.

November 24, 2014
Statement of Advocates' President Jackie Gillan on CBS 60 Minutes report "Falling Apart: America's Neglected Infrastructure." Congress and the Obama Administration must protect current truck size and weight limits to stop additional damage and preventable deaths and injuries. 
Please click here for the full statement. 

October 29, 2014
Safety, consumer and public health organizations urge the President to nominate effective regulator and champion of consumer protection to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Please click here for the letter.

October 21, 2014
October 19 - 25 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. As motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens, Governors and state legislatures should make enactment of comprehensive Graduated Driver Licensing laws a top priority.
Please click here for the full statement of Jackie Gillan.

October 16, 2014
Public opinion poll reveals overwhelming opposition to efforts in Congress to increase truck driver working and driving hours. The results of this new poll will be announced on a press conference call Thursday, October 16 at 2 p.m. EST.
Please click here for the press release and here for the poll results.

September 16, 2014
Advocates' President Jackie Gillan testifies before Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance during the hearing "Oversight of and Policy Considerations for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."
Please click here for the full statement.

July 29, 2014
Senate Commerce Subcommittee to hold hearing on truck safety on Tuesday, July 29th in the Russell Senate Office Building. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Consumer Co-Chair Joan Claybrook to testify. Media availability will occur at 2:30 p.m. prior to the hearing, outside room 253. 
Please click here for the full testimony.

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