Some of you have been wondering exactly what we do when we go to DC to work on truck safety issues. And now that I’ve brought that up I suppose there are some of you newbies to the blog that wonder what truck safety issues I’m talking about. So here’s the short version of the story.
My dad was killed almost fourteen years ago by a tired trucker. He was stopped in traffic on a freeway in Georgia, headed to the Atlanta airport, when a semitruck, being driven by a relatively new driver hit him from behind going 65 miles per hour. He died, they say, instantly.
The driver said he had fallen asleep.
The driver was over the number of hours he should have been driving, had been driving all night. The crash happened around 6 in the morning on a straight piece of highway. Police, ambulances and firetrucks were already there, working on a previous crash. Everyone had slowed down and stopped as they worked their way around the existing crash.
The semi driver didn’t see any of that.
Once we got over our initial shock and began to learn the truth we found that the problem was much bigger than just our crash. In the fourteen years since I’ve met dozens of people who have either survived such a crash, being hit from behind by a truck driven by tired or distracted drivers, or have lost loved ones in crashes that sound exactly like my dad’s.
And that’s why I go to Washington regularly.
We talk to the staff of Representatives and Senators. We ask for legislation to fix some of the loopholes. We ask for support of legislation that is already pending that will make the roads safer for all of us in passenger cars and for the drivers of big trucks too.
We talk to agencies in the Department of Transportation; to staff and management of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to the people at the National Transportation Safety Board, to different departments within the DOT, all of whom are responsible for different aspects of road and vehicle safety.
Sometimes we talk to truck manufacturers and trailer manufacturers. Some of them are moving forward with safety technology even though the government is all wrapped up in studying stuff and not willing to mandate safety.
This past week we had a meeting with the FMCSA Administrator. He is new this year and is facing an uphill battle to get much of anything done. What else is new in Washington, right? He said a lot of the right things, but the reality is that very little will change.
Maybe nothing will change.
I’m not sure they’re even studying much of anything now. I looked at those (mostly) men, sitting in their expensive suites and wondered how much money they made to get absolutely nothing done. They talked a lot about what they were doing and why things were hung up.
We talked a lot about how frustrating it is to work on issues for decades without seeing movement. They mostly didn’t look us in the eyes.
And while we were there we met with a few Senators and Representatives’ staffs. They aren’t doing much either, but they listened politely.
It’s not enough. I’m tired of getting symbolically patted on the head and told they’re sorry for my loss. I’m way beyond needing to make them cry. Unless it’s to cry when their boss loses their next election.
Time to vote people. Vote your heart. Vote for people who might be willing to work on the hard issues, and maybe even be willing to work with people from other political leanings.
It’s the only way we’re going to start making a difference.
While we were in the FMCSA meeting on Wednesday the 2017 truck related deaths and injury numbers came out. Four thousand seven hundred and sixty-one people died. That’s up 9% from 2016.
That’s staggering. And it’s why I continue to go to DC.
So now you’re up to date. Pictures were taken on our last evening in the city, using my cell phone. Not quality pics, but they do give you a glimpse of the pretty side to the city.
October 6, 2018 at 7:54 pm
Dawn–I am so proud that you do this. Things move so slow, but if anyone is studying those figures, 9% is huge. ‘They mostly didn’t look us in the eyes.” That is a most hurtful statement. You want to grab them by their darn expensive lapels and say, “Are you even listening to me?!”
October 7, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Yes, a 9% increase is huge. And we have, figuratively, taken them by the shoulders and asked directly if there was any point in us meeting with them. They say it’s always good to keep them updated on our position. Right.
October 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm
The green glass building is beautiful. The work you are doing is so important. So many deaths, and so frustrating to think the “suits” are just ignoring the families behind those deaths and thinking the issue is not an important one. It pains me to think of the loss you suffered though, that has prompted you to do this work.
October 7, 2018 at 4:58 pm
I don’t think THEY think they’re ignoring us. I think they think we just don’t understand how things work in government. We actually DO understand how things work in government. Not well is how they work.
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October 6, 2018 at 10:23 pm
God bless you guys for all your hard work!
October 7, 2018 at 4:59 pm
Thank you Lisa.
October 7, 2018 at 2:36 pm
It hurt so bad, I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
How can we make them understand how devastatingly awful — an unnecessary, unexpected, (and probably preventable) loss like that is?
It feels like they (in their negligence) are wishing it upon anybody sharing our nation’s roadways.
October 7, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Lifetime government workers don’t seem to know any better. I guess they think this is the way all things work, but I know from working in business forever that we’d never get away with missing deadlines and eventually coming up with no conclusions and getting nothing done. Not in the real world. We’d be fired if we acted like they are acting, did the quality of work that they are producing.
October 8, 2018 at 11:12 pm
You are brave to go to DC and bring up topics they don’t want to do anything about. I am so sorry you have to bring your Father’s death to their attention… I think many people are sleepy and distracted seems like all accident numbers are trending upward. Some new people need to be in DC…term limits might stir that pot up a bit and we could make progress as a country …too many good ole boys:)
October 9, 2018 at 2:27 am
Yes we need to use our power…our vote to make change. And we need to he noisy.
October 10, 2018 at 8:10 am
Thank you, Dawn. Yes, we need to start voting some of these people out. I wish there were term limits. I don’t know if it would make a difference but at least they wouldn’t get so entrenched.
Beautiful photos. 🙂
October 10, 2018 at 8:50 am
Thank you Robin. If more Americans knew and saw how things work in DC they’d rise up and kick these useless lifers out.
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