Thursday, September 18, 2014

Teamsters: 20 years is too long to wait for a safety rule

Not for novices.
The Teamsters and other public safety advocates sued the U.S. Department of Transportation today for failing to issue long-overdue truck safety requirements.

In 1993, Congress ordered the transportation department to issue a rule setting training standards for entry-level drivers. Twenty years later, inexperienced drivers are still hitting the road with no behind-the-wheel training.

To get a commercial driver's license, people only need to take 10 hours of classroom lectures and to pass a test.

The Teamsters, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Public Citizen is representing the groups.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said,
Proper training is absolutely necessary for new drivers to operate their rigs safely. The agency is shirking its responsibility by not issuing this long-overdue rule.
A Public Citizen press statement described how an inexperienced driver killed a 35-year trucker:
Dorothy Wert’s husband, David Wert, Sr., was killed in 2011 in a truck crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver who left his broken-down truck parked in the middle of a dark Pennsylvania highway at 3 a.m. with no lights on and no warning signals or flares. After the crash, David, a truck driver with 35 years of experience, managed to drive his truck safely onto the side of the road in spite of suffering fatal injuries. 
“We have waited far too long for a requirement to ensure that truck drivers know what they are doing and have been tested before we allow them behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck,” said Wert, a CRASH volunteer advocate who lives in Montrose, Pa. “Truck drivers should not be allowed to drive without a required understanding of the regulations and a minimum number of training hours behind the wheel. I know that my husband would be alive today if the driver that caused Dave’s crash had been better trained, had more experience and had taken the proper precautions.”
About 4,000 people a year die in truck crashes. Another 100,000 are injured.