County woman urges Congress to pass truck safety legislation
Families and survivors of truck crash fatalities and injuries joined May 7 in Washington D.C. to share their stories and voice support for new legislation.
Citizens met with the Truck Safety Coalition, safety and labor advocates and Senate and House sponsors to support the introduction of critical truck safety legislation to freeze truck size and weight limits.
Pina Arrington of Goose Creek lost her husband Scott in a truck crash in 2012 when a truck driver turned sharply to the right, crossed two lanes of traffic, and slammed into her husband.
“On April 9, 2012, I lost my husband, Scott Arrington, in a truck crash,” Arrington told Congress. “Scott was heading to work in North Charleston when a truck driver, who had been sitting in the center median, got tired of waiting on traffic.
“Maybe he was under pressure to get his load delivered. He turned sharply to the right, crossed two lanes of traffic and slammed into my husband. Scott died at the scene from blunt force trauma.
“That day, my family joined the thousands of other families who lose loved ones each and every year in preventable truck crashes. More can and must be done to stop these tragedies that not only kill and severely injure people but also devastate parents, children, siblings, family, friends, and communities.”
Arrington and others urged Congress to take action in the 15 worst states for truck crash fatalities to better protect their motorists. In descending order from the worst, the 15 states are North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, South Carolina, Idaho and Nevada.
“In my state of South Carolina, which has the shameful slot of 13th most dangerous, truck crash deaths increased an astonishing 36 percent from 2010 to 2011,” Arrington said. “Compared to the 9 percent national increase in truck crash fatalities during that same time, this is completely unacceptable.
“What happened to my husband Scott is not an accident. The unacceptably high numbers of truck crash deaths and injuries are the result of bad actors in an industry choosing profit ahead of safety.”
Arrington said that the trucking industry’s request to add more weight to vehicles would be a mistake: “The laws of physics dictate that if we add more weight to trucks, they will produce more force when they crash, and result in greater damages. We must stop the industry’s push to add 25 percent more weight to already dangerously heavy trucks.”
The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA), sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) will freeze current federal truck size and weight limits, close existing loopholes that allow operation of overweight trucks, and establish an enforcement program to ensure accountability.
Supporting the SHIPA introduction were dozens of survivors of truck crashes from around the country.
“Every year more than 4,000 people are slaughtered on our nation’s highways while corporate trucking and shipping interests continue to push Congress for heavier trucks,” Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Chair Joan Claybrook said. “Heavy trucks are deadly, dangerous and destructive. Families are paying with their lives and with their wallets.”
A new national poll conducted for the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) by Lake Research Partners shows overwhelming support for truck weight limitations, and opposition to holding taxpayers responsible for paying for infrastructure damage caused by heavier trucks: 68 percent oppose heavier trucks, with 47 percent strongly opposed.
According to the poll, 88 percent of Americans do not want to pay higher taxes for the damage caused by heavier trucks with 75 percent strongly opposed.
The Truck Safety Coalition released a report ranking the states on truck crash fatalities for 2011, the most recent data available.
TSC’s “Sorrow to Strength” conference brings together for four days of remembrance, workshops and meetings with Members of Congress and U.S. Department of Transportation officials to advance truck safety.
More information is available at www.trucksafety.org.