Please Drive Safer on Sunday 11/26 Watch Out for Trucks

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year and one that sees a dramatic rise in the amount of accidents on our roadways. To remind Americans about the importance of driving safely, Road Safe America (RSA), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing collisions between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles, is encouraging all motorists to observe Drive Safer Sunday on November 26.  U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga. were joined by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., in introducing a Drive Safer Sunday resolution in the Senate which passed on November 16th.

 The observane, now in its 13th year, is championed by Steve Owings and his wife, Susan, who founded RSA in 2003 after their son, Cullum, was killed when his car – stopped in an interstate traffic jam – was crushed from behind by a speeding tractor-trailer on cruise control going well above the posted speed limit.  The crash occurred on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2002 as Cullum returned to college after spending the week at home in Atlanta with his family and friends.

“The Sunday after Thanksgiving will always be a painful day for our family,” said Steve Owings. “We hope that by raising awareness of the dangers of holiday travel, many lives will be spared and other families will not have to deal with needless, tragic loss.”

Each year, approximately 1,000 people are killed and nearly 25,000 people are injured in accidents involving speeding tractor trailers. And while the biggest tractor-trailers only account for one percent of vehicles on American roads, they are involved in a staggering 18 percent of fatal, multi-vehicle crashes.  Slowing down speeding big rigs should be a priority to make our highways safer. Research and studies done by the federal government confirm this.

An FMCSA study concluded that big-rigs not using their built-in speed governors were involved in high-speed collisions at twice the rate of trucks that were using them. In addition, a study released by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation found the crash rate of speeding trucks dropped by 73 percent after their heavy vehicle speed limiter mandate took effect in Ontario and fatalities in all crashes involving big rigs dropped 24 percent in the same time frame.

U.S. citizens can be heard on the issue of a requirement for speed limiters to be set on all big-rigs. RSA strongly urges all drivers to demand that the speed limiter rule, pending at the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), apply to all existing tractor-trailers (not just new ones) with the capability on our nation’s highways. Incredibly, the proposed rule as currently stated, would only apply to newly manufactured trucks, despite the fact that the majority of existing big-rigs already have speed-limiting technology built into their systems.

“The government has an immediate opportunity to significantly reduce these horrific crashes on our highways,” said Steve Owings. “The United States is now the only leading country on earth without a speed limiter rule. We hope that citizens will demand that the clear safety benefits of this rule are achieved now, not over the next 20 to 30 years it would take for all trucks to turn over to new models.”

RSA reminds those traveling during Thanksgiving (and the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to come) to:

  • Get plenty of rest before operating a vehicle and take frequent breaks to remain alert.
  • Be attentive to dangers inside and outside of their car.
  • Consider driving during off-peak travel hours to avoid congestion.
  • Avoid unnecessary distractions behind the wheel, including loud sound systems and the use of any hand-held devices. Remember that in many states, a hand-held phone – and particularly texting behind the wheel – is illegal.
  • Give large trucks plenty of room since they can’t see as well, maneuver as quickly, or stop in the same distance as passenger vehicles can in an emergency.

Road Safe America is dedicated to reducing the injuries and deaths resulting from collisions between tractor-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles by effecting change to improve safety on America’s Roadways. We are supported by private donations and have no financial ties to any part of the transportation industry.  We are not anti-truck or anti-trucker.  We are pro-safety.  Steve Owings and his wife, Susan, founded Road Safe America in 2003 after their son, Cullum, was killed when his car – stopped in an interstate traffic jam – was crushed from behind by a speeding tractor trailer going well above the posted speed limit on cruise control.  Since that tragic event, Steve and Susan, through Road Safe America, have worked to make our highways safer for all travelers.