As I’ve said before: enough is enough
I have written and spoken many times about how we need to treat our truck drivers better, to save their lives, and those of everyone else in our communities on our roads.
My heart goes out to Mr. Roffers and his family and friends. An innocent victim of another truck driver who I’m willing to bet was driving too long and too late, most likely fatigued.
Sadly, it is a very well-known situation for a driver to run into the rear of a slower vehicle late at night when the driver is very tired. Some call it the “moth affect.” Droopy eyed, drowsy brained, the tired trucker pushes on since he or she is paid by the mile, not the hour as they should be paid. Staying on the road is a matter of following the tail lights in front of you. However, with severely impaired reaction times, the tired trucker follows the slower vehicle to the shoulder, only to realize the fatal mistake too late. Unable to react in time, the huge crash happens often before they can slam on the brakes. And, with a load as big as 80,000 pounds, even a little braking at interstate speeds is but a drop in the bucket.
1 dead in 3-vehicle crash near Marshfield
TREVOR J. MITCHELL
An Illinois man is dead after a 3-vehicle crash early Tuesday morning on I-44 near Marshfield.
A report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol says a pickup truck eastbound on I-44 began pulling onto the shoulder as it ran out of fuel, when a tractor-trailer ran into the truck’s towed unit.
The tractor-trailer then left the roadway and crossed the median into the westbound lane of I-44, where another tractor- trailer traveling westbound struck it.
The driver of the second tractor-trailer, Gregory Roffers, 52, of Illinois, was pronounced dead at the scene by Webster County Deputy Coroner Robert Jernigan. The driver of the first tractor-trailer, Jeremiah Johnson, 34, of Arizona, suffered minor injuries and was taken to Mercy Hospital.
This is Troop D’s 7th fatality for the month of July, and the 57th for 2015.
Here, not only were the folks in the pickup truck at risk of serious injury or death, the rig had to be going fast enough with enough momentum/weight that the first crash did not slow the truck enough to allow the safety cables to stop the truck. After plowing thru the cables, the rig then crashes into and kills a fellow trucker. It could have been a family on vacation, a church bus returning from an event, or anyone.
I’m also very sure that Mr. Johnson feels horrible about the crash, and is likely injured himself.
However, my point is even much bigger than the tragic facts of how many lives were lost or ruined early yesterday morning.
Right now, this very minute, in Congress, there are trucking industry lobbyists pushing a sweeping bill through, quietly bypassing committee meetings and hearings, that will make our highways more dangerous rather than safely, and it is all motivated by putting corporate profits ahead of citizen safety.
Look up S.1732, here’s a link for more info:
There are some good things in this bill so it is important to identify what you find offensive and why, and let your legislators know your feelings. Some of the worst parts of the bill are being driven by the fact that there is a severe shortage of drivers. Companies are having trouble finding qualified people to drive their trucks and therefore are pushing for easing of safety restrictions and lengthening of driving hours to combat the shortage. I get that, but sacrificing our safety should not be the cost of the industry making more money. This bill:
- removes critical trucking company safety data from the public view
- allows “interim hiring” below the normal safety standards for truck drivers and then after a crash, it limits what you can tell the jury that this was a driver that the trucking company hired below the usual safety standards
- allows states to permit even longer multi trailer vehicles
- ALLOWS A 6 YEAR PILOT PROGRAM TO HIRE DRIVERS 18-21 TO DRIVE SEMI’S COAST TO COAST !! (Section 2503)
And that is my final point: do we really want 18 year olds on our roads at 2 a.m. drowsy, paid by the mile, behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound rig ?? Truck driving is a hard job and requires skills that come with time and maturity. Twenty one is fine for drinking, big rig truck driving should be the same minimum. That’s what it has been for interstate driving for a long time, and that’s the way it should stay.
Again, enough is enough. More than “enough” lives have been torn apart or lost when we pass laws putting safety at a low priority.
Let’s pay our truck drivers a fair hourly wage, let them get plenty of proper rest so if they have to drive late shifts, they are not stressed trying to make a fair living, and not fatigued and hurting or killing innocent citizens.
Be safe out there.