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LETTERS

We’re all imperiled by gaps in highway safety and lapses in oversight

A man places flags on July 6, 2019, at the New Hampshire memorial site where seven motorcyclists lost their lives in a collision with a truck.
A man places flags on July 6, 2019, at the New Hampshire memorial site where seven motorcyclists lost their lives in a collision with a truck.Erin Clark for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

Federal agency lacks the resources and political will to push safety measures

Your Aug. 30 editorial “Highway carnage begs for solutions,” commenting on the yearlong Globe investigative report “Blind Spot,” identified chronic failures of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to adequately regulate the trucking industry. The FMCSA lacks not only sufficient resources but also the political will to implement essential safety measures.

Experience and research have identified many persistent problems that contribute to crashes. Yet practical solutions are neglected or simply rejected by the FMCSA.

Truck driver fatigue is a well-known safety problem. Currently, a truck driver can drive up to 11 hours in a shift and can accumulate as many as 60 hours of driving over seven days. These are grueling and exhausting hours to drive week in and week out. Unbelievably, in May, the FMCSA announced changes to the federal hours-of-service rules that take away needed rest breaks.

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In addition, the federal government continues to drag its feet on mandating affordable and available technology on trucks, such as automatic emergency braking systems, already required in Europe.

Unfortunately, many members of Congress are eager partners in contributing to the problem by advocating, and often succeeding in, rolling back safety rules for their trucking industry friends. These include allowing even more driving and work hours, permitting extra-long or overweight trucks on our roads, and continuing to keep hidden from the public critical information about government safety inspections of motor carriers. Legislation is pending to lower the minimum age for driving a truck across state lines, from 21 to 18, despite data clearly showing that teen truck drivers have a much higher risk of being involved in a fatal crash.

Truck crash victims and survivors understand the need for an effective government regulator. Without one, we all pay the price with our wallets and our lives.

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Daphne Izer

Lisbon, Maine

Dawn King

Davisburg, Mich.

Jackie Gillan

Washington, D.C.

Izer is the founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers, King is president of the Truck Safety Coalition, and Gillan is a member of the board of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.


Legitimate trucking industry committed to safer roads for everyone

Highway safety is everyone’s responsibility, and perhaps no group feels that more than legitimate trucking companies across Massachusetts, which have demonstrated real, measurable improvements in safety over the past two decades.

Trucks deliver 70 percent of the nation’s goods, and as we saw in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, those deliveries are essential. The more than $9.5 billion that trucking invests annually in new technologies, training, and equipment to protect the motoring public is a testament to our commitment to safety.

As the Globe’s investigative series “Blind Spot” highlighted, the industry’s commitment can be overshadowed by actions of unscrupulous actors. That’s why industry leaders have pushed for improved safety tools, better clearinghouses to monitor drivers’ drug and alcohol testing history, and notification systems so that carriers are informed when drivers have been issued citations.

The Trucking Association of Massachusetts has supported bipartisan legislation pending for five years that would encourage further investment in the newest, safest, and cleanest technology available. Unfortunately, current Massachusetts law creates a disincentive for fleets to purchase new vehicles equipped with the newest safety technologies, such as collision mitigation systems.

The fact remains that the legitimate trucking industry is committed to having safer roads for everyone.

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Kevin Weeks

Executive director

Trucking Association of Massachusetts

Boston



Required reading for every public official

The Globe’s brilliant series “Blind Spot” and last Sunday’s editorial should be required reading for every legislator, every governor, indeed every public official concerned with highway safety. Bad drivers are a growing menace to other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and the carnage could be greatly reduced. Let’s hope that the series and editorial will build momentum for change. This is the kind of journalism that makes me proud to be a Globe subscriber for more than 30 years.

Henry Stimpson

Wayland