Statement of Cathy Chase on Committee Passage of Transportation Funding Bill

    • April 21, 2016
    150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  April 21, 2016                                    

    Contact: Allison Kennedy, 202-408-1711, akennedy@saferoads.org

              STATEMENT OF CATHY CHASE, VICE PRESIDENT OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS, ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY, ON SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF DEADLY, DAMAGING AND DESTRUCTIVE “TIRED TRUCKER” PROVISION IN TRANSPORTATION APPROPRIATIONS BILL

     Tomorrow is the One-Year Anniversary of the Truck Crash that Killed 5 Georgia Southern Nursing Students, Yet Today a Bill Advances that Will Lead to Even More Preventable Fatal Truck Crashes

     Today the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill.  There was absolutely no discussion or debate about a controversial provision slipped into the bill that will re-write the Obama Administration’s truck driver hours of service (HOS) rule and promote even more fatigue among truck drivers.  This action is especially egregious considering tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the devastating crash which killed five nursing students from Georgia Southern University, Emily Clark, Morgan Bass, Abbie Deloach, Catherine (McKay) Pittman, and Caitlyn Baggett.  The driver in that crash had a history of falling asleep at the wheel in previous incidents.

    This is a nightmarish déjà vu moment as only two years ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed another major anti-safety provision around the same time as the horrific N.J. Turnpike crash caused by a fatigued truck driver which killed James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan.  It is time for Congress to put the brakes on the runaway trucking industry anti-safety agenda plowing through Congress and over-riding public safety rules for the third year in a row.

    Before today is over, 11 people will die in large truck crashes and 275 more will be injured.  Truck driver fatigue is a contributor to truck crashes according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which included reducing fatigue related crashes on the 2016 Most Wanted List of safety changes.  Moreover, truck driving is one of the 10 most dangerous jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  A survey prepared for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that almost two-thirds of drivers often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and almost half had said they had fallen asleep while driving the previous year.  But today the Senate Committee ignored these horrific crashes and compelling facts and put corporate trucking interests before the safety of American motorists.

    Today’s “markup” of the THUD bill lacked any actual “marking up” of the bill, any discussion of the anti-safety provision in the bill, and any debate on how the bill will impact the American public.  This closed door backroom politicking is a prime example of why the American public distrusts the process.  Unfortunately, the change made to the HOS Rule does nothing to address the serious problem of cumulative fatigue.  We urge the full Senate and the House of Representatives to remedy this problem and make sure truck drivers get more time to rest between long work tours and allow them to get proper rest time to reduce fatigue.

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