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CNBC series looks at safety of big rigs on highway

American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki (left) walks with CNBC reporter Eamon Javers during taping of the series "Collision Course." Osiecki defended the trucking industry's safety record, telling Javers that 70 percent of accidents involving big trucks are the fault of the other vehicle. (Courtesy: CNBC)

The Trucker News Services

7/30/2014

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — Beginning Wednesday, CNBC will air a four-part investigative series “Collision Course,” which shines a light on crashes that involve long-haul trucks.

The special report, which is reported by Eamon Javers, will run throughout CNBC’s Business Day programming, which airs Monday through Friday from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. EDT.

The four-part series includes:

• CNBC breaks down the numbers highlighting that 20 percent of trucks (over 2 million) inspected in 2012 had out of service violations – faulty brakes, bad tires and shouldn’t have been on the road.  And, nearly 5 percent of truck drivers (171,000) had enough violations to be pulled from behind the wheel. 

• Javers speaks with Dan Lindner whose wife, mother-in-law and two young sons left their home in Illinois to visit family in Ohio, but all tragically died when a truck driver plowed into the back of the family’s minivan.  According to the police report, truck driver Clyde Roberts, was driving at an unsafe speed.  In addition, he had three prior rear-end accidents and seven warning letters from his employer, Millis Transfer, yet he was allowed to continue driving. Nearly 11 people each day suffer the same fate as Lindner’s family, the series says.

• Can we make the roads safer?  Fairly inexpensive technology can make a huge difference in improving highway safety but only 10 percent of trucks have it.  Mercedes recently unveiled an autonomous truck and plans to have driverless trucks on the road by 2025. The report notes that Volvo Trucks has developed enhanced cruise controls which automatically engage the brakes if a truck approaches another vehicle too quickly and lane departure warning systems that alerts the driver if the truck drifts into the middle of the highway. CNBC goes along for a ride in a Volvo test vehicle.

• Critics say the industry is under-regulated and point to a growing problem in which companies, in an effort to avoid litigation, simply change their name – a process they call “chameleon carriers.”  CNBC profiles one crash in Oregon in which a driver, who admitted to using crystal meth, ran over and killed another driver who was inspecting his rig on the side of the highway. This driver’s boss had opened and closed prior trucking companies, including one with safety issues.

According to one industry source who’s seen clips of all four segments, the report tells the story of truck safety from the perspective of trucking industry officials, safety advocates and plaintiff’s attorneys to give their opinion on the cause and outcome of truck crashes.

The segments feature Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Anne Ferro defending the industry’s safety record, American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki pointing out that data show 70 percent of crashes involving large trucks are the fault of four-wheeler drivers and John Lannen executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, who disputed Osiecki’s statement.

At the same time, the source said while the report gives both sides of the safety debate an opportunity to speak, the segments will only add to the public’s less-than-stellar image of the industry.

To view a clip of segment “Can truck companies clear their dirty safety record?” click here.

To view a clip of the segment “Truck safety technology in action” click here.

To view a clip of the segment “Death on the highway” click here.

To view a clip of the segment “Troubled truck drive kills family in fiery crash” click here.

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

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