Any discussion at Underride Roundtable must begin with prevention of underride crashes

Before you can talk underride you must address unsafe truck parking and the safety community that covered up this issue for a decade.

Truck roadside fatal crashes were around 13% of fatal truck crashes, let us round that down to 500 fatalities in 2013.

Asleep or Fatigued fatal truck crashes 2013 . . . . . . . Single  41   5.3%          Multiple 15   0.5%

Truck driver fatigue 2013 cited in 1.5% of all fatal truck crashes causing 56 fatalities, 75% were single vehicle truck driver fatalities.

FMCSA has victims recommendations in their victims panels from only TSC members citing fatigue as an issue. Parking victims contacting FMCSA with parking safety issues are not responded to.

Truck parking and stopping safety has been non-existent for 10 years due to TSC efforts to limit issues from victims and to limit non-fatigue publicity, refusing to bring up parking safety and underride before American media, trucking victims, Congress, and possibly FMCSA. Studies could not find fatality reduction for mostly failed fatigue efforts in the past decade. If we look at as many as 5000 parked or stopped fatalities over the decade Federal parking safety training and State Patrol enforcement training and ringing alarm bells for unsafe truck parking to public and media it is quite safe to say that 2000 to 3000 of our fellow victims could have been saved, we do not want to know how many children.

Bringing this false image of truck safety as fatigue only to the public and law enforcement has been catastrophic. Fatigue mostly affects car drivers in truck crashes yet there is no campaign for car drivers fatigue safety. Trucking safety in the U.S. has been defrauded to only allow issues that the powerful trucking unions support. Truck driver fatigue which mostly kills truck drivers in single vehicle crashes (75%) and bigger trucks which decreases driving jobs. If we approached underride crashes and truck safety as multi-issue subjects and gave increased effort to the areas that are most achievable and could save the most lives, many less would have and will perish. Any discussion of underride must begin with this sad history of the past decade in the U.S. Technology will solve the fatigue issue and hours of service regulations will contribute but due to industry pressure will arrive too late as the Underride Network informed TSC more than a decade ago.

Advocates, Truck Safety Coalition, FMCSA, NHTSA, NTSB, Volpe, ATA, and the trucking unions all bear some responsibility for these extra deaths. Parking victims were purposely excluded from parking safety conferences over Underride Network objections. If you dare to talk underride you must begin with safe truck parking, the easiest and cheapest lives to be saved while we wait for real energy absorbing underride guards which safety groups used to recommend before stiff phony underride guards had performed a little better than giullotine guards at IIHS crash tests. Stiff guards that will rip apart truck rails at high speeds which are 75% of fatal crashes. In speeches to Congress there has been no discussion of underride guards, underride issues, or underride victims. NHTSA and FMCSA still refuse to acknowledge publicly on their websites that underride victims exist and they do not discuss their issues even though critical to trucking safety. Victims are not partners, only industry and multi-million dollar contracts. NHTSA and FMCSA have allowed bragging from vurtually every state on the internet that their State Patrol do not enforce truck parking laws that sadly do not even exist on most Interstate Highways.

Quotes from the Wall Street Journal:

“The FHA found that one of the most critical issues cited by law enforcement and safety regulators in the study is the dilemma they face when they encounter trucks parked—often illegally—on road shoulders.”

“Police know the reason is often that the trucker got tired or ran out of his 11 hours of drive time but couldn’t find a parking place. “A driver sleeping in a truck parked on the side of a highway may be more of a danger if he or she is awakened and ordered to vacate the premises,” the study noted.”

This is the sad outcome that control of the truck parking issue has been given to trucking unions and parked truck victims are not allowed to be part of the conversation. It takes 5 seconds to place triangles and a minute or two to find a slow speed parking location. Any law enforcement officer allowing illegal parking on freeway ramps or high-speed locations should be cited for homicide if this activity more dangerous than drinking and driving results in deaths. The U.S. DOT should apologize to every parking victim for the past decade for their complete coverup of these safety violations that are well known to all.