When is Safety, Safety?
Highway safety advocates say trucking industry groups spend a lot of money lobbying lawmakers in an effort to avoid being required to use costly safety devices. A lot of so called safety measures have been instituted using the safety flag pole but have nothing to do with safety.
Safety advocates have been pushing for over 40 years to require “side guards” on all trucks as is a matter of course in Europe. They say the devices can help prevent nine out of 10 injuries from under-ride collisions, in which a car hits the side of a tractor-trailer and crashes underneath it.
Side guards are still not required, despite under-ride collisions killing hundreds of people in the United States each year.
“It would save a lot of lives, but the trucking industry opposes it,” said Joan Claybrook, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The trucking industry gives a huge amount of money to members of Congress.”
However, the American Trucking Associations, a powerful industry group, points out the group has never taken a stance on the issue and that there haven’t been legislative proposals to lobby against.
The ATA, in a written statement, said “We believe preventing crashes should be the preeminent strategic safety goal, and that the best underride guard is one that never gets used. Rather than focus on lessening the impact of a crash after it occurs, we believe the focus should be on preventing crashes through education, enforcement of speed limits, adoption of distracted and aggressive driving laws, and increased use of technology including automatic emergency braking and collision warning systems that provide safety benefits that are the precursors to what we may see from autonomous vehicles in the future.”
The report points out that members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee received more than $9 million in contributions from the transportation sector in last year’s election cycle.