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Enough is enough; our alertness is waning

In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on its side June 7 on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash, which killed a fellow comedian, was one of three crashes in the past month in which a tractor-trailer plowed into the rear of a passenger vehicle. (Associated Press: WILL VAULTZ)

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

7/10/2014

AN EDITORIAL

Enough is enough. All the jabber about Hours of Service and the restart rule is fine, but we’re talking life and death here.

It’s time to launch a nationwide safety campaign built around the premise that some of you appear to be either not paying attention to the road ahead or you’re driving with diminished alertness because you are fatigued.

Why do we come to that conclusion?

Because for the third time in a little more than a month, we’ve been made aware of an accident where a tractor-trailer plowed into the rear of a passenger vehicle.

Two people have died.

Another couple was badly shaken and thankful that their two children were not with them.

We’re all aware of the accident in New Jersey that killed a passenger in the limousine carrying comedian Tracy Morgan.

The NTSB says the driver in that case hit the limo traveling 65 mph despite the presence of a collision mitigation system on his tractor.

Two days later, two of our friends were traveling east on Interstate 30 near Hope, Arkansas, when they slowed down for a construction zone and were hit from behind by a tractor-trailer.

Their Tahoe rolled four times, and when the vehicle came to rest, they looked in the back seat and where their children would have been sitting in safety car seats: The vehicle was smashed and the seats mangled.

Then Wednesday afternoon, there was an accident on Interstate 40 at mile marker 161 just east of Little Rock.

Many of you are familiar with the roadway there because it is adjacent to three major truck stops — Petro, Pilot Flying J and Love’s — and you know you can see for miles in both directions because of the flat topography.

As a passenger vehicle slowed down because of an accident, a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of the car, pushing the vehicle into the back of another tractor-trailer, smashing the vehicle and killing the driver.

Yes, we know that the statistics show that somewhere around 75 percent of the accidents involving a big rig and a passenger vehicle are the fault of the four-wheeler, but when we start smashing into passenger vehicles from behind — two of which slowed down for construction, the other for an accident — it means we’re either not paying attention or we’re fatigued and our reaction time has been greatly diminished.

Thanks to ambulance chasing lawyers and their overbearing billboards, our image out there is already bad enough, and accidents such as these only strengthen that negativity.

Nothing — not even a Trucking Moves America Forward campaign or the success in getting that Serial Killer ad removed from Maxim magazine — can overcome the bad press of a tractor-trailer needlessly ramming into the back of a passenger vehicle.

We know that there are literally millions of professional truck drivers who are safe and courteous, and we hope those will join our call for the careless — and there’s no other word to describe these three accidents — truckers who are not paying attention or driving when they are fatigued.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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