STATEMENT OF DAPHNE IZER,
MOTHER OF JEFF IZER, KILLED IN A CRASH INVOLVING A TIRED TRUCKER,
AND FOUNDER, PARENTS AGAINST TIRED TRUCKERS (P.A.T.T.)
March 8, 2005
Good afternoon, my name is Daphne Izer and I am the founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.). I took off time from work today to travel to Washington, D.C., from Lisbon, Maine, and participate in this press conference to speak out against yet another assault on truck safety. Rep. Boozman has introduced legislation, H.R. 623, that may be offered as an amendment to H.R. 3, the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. I urge Congress not to let the “legacy” of this bill be special interest provisions that roll back safety by increasing the work day of truck drivers to 16 hours. While the text of H.R. 623 is short – only five lines in length – its reach is long and deadly. Enactment will set back safety for truck drivers and American families on our roads and highways.
Nearly 5,000 people are killed every year in crashes with big trucks. But this statistic does not relate the human cost of these crashes. I started P.A.T.T. in May 1994, only seven months after my teenage son, Jeff, was killed by a fatigued Wal-Mart truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into him and four of his friends who were pulled over on the shoulder of the Maine Turnpike. As a result of this horrific but preventable crash, four beautiful teenagers – Jeff Izer (age 17), Angie Dubuc (age 16), Dawn Marie Welding (age 15), and Katie Leighton (age 14) – were killed. One, Linda Tardif, 15, was seriously injured and mentally scarred for life. Five families suffered incomparable personal tragedies as a result of a single tired trucker. Too many parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors and school friends suffer such loss every year.
Truck driver fatigue has been identified as the No. 1 safety problem confronting the trucking industry for more than a decade. In the past, I have referred to truck driver fatigue as the “silent killer.” Today or any day, I will not be “silent” about the human and economic costs of Congress allowing special truck interests to legislate unsafe and deadly practices. This proposed amendment to increase the on-duty hours during which a truck driver can work or drive will contribute to even more truck driver fatigue, making the problem explode. Increasing the truck driver work day to 16 hours is opposed by consumer, health, and truck safety organizations, labor and truck drivers. Under the hours-of-service rule currently in effect, truck drivers already have three hours for rest breaks, meals and other work activities.
No public hearings have been held to examine this or any other amendments to permit exemptions from the hours-of-service rules. Before Wal-Mart and other members of the trucking and retail industries are granted special interest exemptions, I would be happy to come to Washington, D.C., and provide you and members of the House of Representatives with information about the human and financial costs of fatigue-related truck crashes. This is about greed and the almighty dollar and certainly puts safety last. Safety must be our first priority. Congress should be doing more to address truck driver fatigue instead of enacting legislation granting Wal-Mart and others special treatment that will restore many of the same abuses and violations that resulted in truck crashes involving fatigued drivers.
If this legislation is enacted, any of you could be the next victim of a tired trucker crash. I don’t want other parents going through this nightmare that my husband and I still are trying to live through day by day.
On behalf of all parents, whether or not members of P.A.T.T., I urge Congress to vote “NO” on this amendment. We need to put the brakes on longer work days for truck drivers. Today I am sending a letter to Rep. Boozman asking him not to offer this dangerous amendment.