Concerned with the heavy toll from crashes involving tractor-trailers, a group of safety advocates want the incoming Biden administration to force owners and operators of heavy-duty trucks to deploy new safety equipment.
“We cannot wait and allow another 20K truck crash deaths & 600K injuries in the next 4 years when solutions are at hand. President-elect Biden we need strong leaders at NHTSA and FMCSA,” the Truck Safety Coalition tweeted just before Christmas.
It also sent a letter to the President-elect asking the new administration to mandate crash avoidance technologies like automatic braking become standard equipment on new trucks. Crash avoidance systems are currently available on passenger cars.
As part of its campaign, the Truck Safety Coalition is also calling on the incoming Biden administration to fill key posts at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, or NHTSA, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, with regulators committed to safety and who are free of connections to the trucking industry.
The push by the coalition – hoping to mimic the impact of advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which became a major voice on issues related to traffic safety back in the 1980s – is made up of volunteers, many of whom had loved ones killed or injured in accidents with trucks.
The group notes the technology – such as automatic braking – is already available and relatively inexpensive when measured against the benefits. It notes 13 people die and more than 400 are injured each day in car-truck crashes around the U.S.
“Truck crash victims and safety advocates urge President-elect Biden to combat rising death toll by appointing strong leaders to DOT safety regulatory agencies not tied to industry. Overdue & ignored safety actions needed now,” the group tweeted.
Biden’s own wife and daughter were killed in a car truck collision almost half a century ago.
The Trump administration had taken several steps to ease regulations on the trucking industry. One of the biggest steps – and one of the most controversial – increased the number of hours drivers could remain behind the wheel before they had to take mandatory rest breaks.
The change to hours of service is being challenged in federal court by a coalition of traffic-safety advocates.
The problems related to trucking safety and regulation will be among the issues that will be handled by Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, whom Biden has nominated to serve as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.