The Truck Safety Coalition has started a series of interviews, done during lunch hours, of different people working on issues within the truck safety world. The series is titled Lunch N Learn.
Earlier this year we did an interview with Michael Belzer, former truck driver and now a PhD and professor at Wayne State University, focused on the purported driver shortage. Dr. Belzer authored “Sweatshops on Wheels,” a book about the deregulation of the trucking industry. You can go to the video library on the Truck Safety Coalition’s website (trucksafety.org) and click on “Debunking the Driver Shortage” to see that interview.
This Thursday, May 5th, at 12:30 p.m. eastern daylight time, we will be interviewing Representative Andy Levin who has authored a bill, H.R. 7517, the Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act. We’ll be finding out what led him to the writing of this bill, and how he hopes to move it forward.
You can tune in to hear about this industry changing idea yourself, just by clicking this link on Thursday at 12:30 eastern.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time you’ll know that most truck drivers are paid by the mile, not by the hour, and that creates a lot of the safety issues that we all face when we’re sharing the roads with big commercial trucks.
I think you’ll find the Congressman interesting and informative. I hope you can join us. And if you can’t, I will post a link later for you to watch at a time convenient to you.
We’re going live tomorrow! I’ve rarely done any live work on Facebook before, but tomorrow is the day! The Truck Safety Coalition will be featuring volunteers, board members and staff in short presentations and interviews every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m tomorrow. You can see it all on their Facebook page.
I’m live at 10:00 a.m. I’ve been practicing, but you never know how it will really go. I’m not sure I can get through it without crying, so I may end up doing an abbreviated version. Or maybe tears are just what we need for people to realize how important safety is for us all.
Below is what I’m planning to say. What actually comes out of my mouth tomorrow may be completely different.
Hey everybody! My name is Dawn King. I’ve been a volunteer with the Truck Safety Coalition for more than 15 years. When people first hear me talk about volunteering with TSC they assume I’m a retired truck driver or something.
But that’s not it.
I volunteer with TSC to honor my dad. Some of you know that he was killed a couple days before Christmas back in 2004 when he was driving to the airport to catch a flight, planning to spend the holidays with family.
He was on the interstate, early in the morning of December 23rd when he came upon a small crash. He would have called it a fender bender. Police, ambulance and fire trucks were already on the scene, and traffic was slowly being directed around the crash.
Dad was in back of a semi, and both of them, along with most of the rest of traffic, managed to slow down and move into the left lane. But the semi behind dad never saw the slowed traffic. He never saw all those revolving emergency lights on that dark early morning. The semi behind dad slammed into him with the cruise control still engaged. Dad’s vehicle was pushed into the semi ahead of him, then spun out into the median. Dad was partially ejected through a rear window even though he was wearing his seatbelt.
They say he died instantly.
What should have been a joyous time of year turned into tragedy and my family’s lives were changed forever. Dad was the trunk of our family tree, our last living parent. Without him I and my 3 siblings felt lost. We had no idea what we should do next, where we should turn.
And then someone searching randomly on the internet came across the Truck Safety Coalition and I called them asking for advice. And that’s where it all began.
TSC helped connect us to an attorney who in turn told me the things I needed to do immediately to protect our interests. That was a big first step. And the further we got into the process the more I realized how huge the problems are in the trucking industry. How often the families who are injured or killed are considered just another cost of doing business.
Every one of my siblings said they wanted to do something, to make sure no one ever had to go through the pain we were experiencing. And volunteering for this organization is how we’re making a difference.
Volunteering for TSC changed my life, it gave me a place to put my anger and my grief. It gave me the opportunity to help other people. To make positive change. It gave me a direction.
We know we won’t stop all crashes. We know change is slow and difficult. But every step we make toward protecting both the motoring public AND the drivers of these trucks saves someone an injury, saves a life, keeps a family together. Even though we can’t identify specific individuals who weren’t involved in a crash because , for example, a double 33 foot trailer wasn’t on their highway, we know that working to keep longer double 33 foot trailers off many of our roads has saved lives.
The Truck Safety Coalition was there when my family needed it. And we want to make sure they continue to be there for all the families, especially the new families far into the future. People are beginning their long treks through grief and pain every single year. Approximately 5,000 people die each year in crashes with commercial trucks. Over 150,000 are injured!
You never think it will happen to you or your family until it does.
It takes money to keep an organization afloat. We can’t let our families down, those new faces, so raw with grief can’t be ignored. We have to raise enough money to keep talking in Washington, and to keep supporting the people who are affected by these crashes.
We need your help.
Next spring we’ll be inviting families to Washington, to give them and their loved ones a voice on Capitol Hill. It’s a conference called Sorrow to Strength which we do every other year. The families, particularly the new families, come to the conference filled with sorrow, and through their time together with other families who have gone through similar experiences, they learn more about the issues, and about themselves.
We see people come the first day barely able to speak their story, who leave after four days with new confidence, strength and commitment, people who have found their voices.
We are all stronger than we ever thought we could be.
We need money to be able to do that. If you’re interested, there are a number of scholarships that need funding. Every dollar helps. You can learn more about the conference and the specific needs at our website, trucksafety.org, under the tab “Sorrow to Strength.”
And, at an every day level, we need funds to have someone answer the phone when a new family calls for help.
We need funds to attend meetings with the agencies that make the rules that govern the trucking industry, to make certain that safety is always involved in any decision.
We need funds for someone to reach out to families soon after the crash, to make sure they know we’re here.
There are so many things that need to be done to meet our duel mission of supporting families and affecting change. And they all require funding.
Truck Safety affects everyone. We all share the roads with commercial trucks. We are all at risk. Help us keep educating, keep supporting, keep pushing for change.
Please donate. You’ll find my page on Facebook or you can go to the Truck Safety Coalition Facebook page and donate there.
And if YOU or your family or friends have been in a crash with a commercial truck, and you’d like to join us in our work, or you want some advice, or just need to connect with other people with a similar experience, please contact us.
You can find out more about our organization and how to reach us at trucksafety.org.
If you knew my dad you know he wouldn’t have been quiet if one of his kids had been killed that December morning.
I can’t be quiet either.
I would be grateful if you would find it in your heart to donate so we can continue this important work.