Blood On The Road: Truck Safety Questioned

Steve Izer, of Lisbon, Maine, holds a photo of his son Jeff, who was killed along with three friends by a tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel, Monday, March 12, 2007, during a news conference in Washington, to name the most deadly trucking states, and release a report card on federal leadership on trucking safety issues on Monday, March 12, 2007 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo
Wyoming, Arkansas and Oklahoma are the deadliest states for truck crashes, according to a safety group that called Monday for tougher federal regulation to reduce fatalities hovering above 100 a week nationwide for years.

The safest states for truck crashes were Rhode Island and Massachusetts, based on the number of fatalities per 100,000 residents during 2005, the most recent year with complete figures.

Seven years since its creation by Congress to improve the safety of trucks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration "is still putting cargo over people," said Joan Claybrook, chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. "This federal agency has failed miserably."

In 1999, when the agency was created, 5,380 people died in crashes with big trucks, Claybrook told a news conference by the Truck Safety Coalition. "That figure has barely budged." It was 5,212 in 2005.

Fifteen percent of people killed and 24 percent of people injured in large truck crashes in 2005 were occupants of large trucks, according to government statistics.

A large truck is defined as one with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds.

The agency's spokesman, Ian M. Grossman, was not immediately available to respond to the criticism.

Speakers at the event called on the agency to reduce the hours that truckers are allowed to drive without rest, increase safety inspections of big trucks, require on-board electronic monitors to ensure compliance with hours-of-service rules, and improve driver training.