Emotional overreach

By Jami Jones, managing editor

No one likes to see the news reports of multi-fatality crashes. I don’t care what your background is; it is simply heart-breaking. We struggle to try and understand how one mistake, one failing piece of equipment can end a life without rhyme or reason.

It’s easy to get caught up in the groundswell of emotion and run to rash judgments on what could have prevented, or will prevent, such tragedy.

We saw a clear case of this during the debate on the Senate’s version of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Out of the blue, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced an amendment setting a deadline on the Department of Transportation to mandate speed limiters.

His reason? The horrifying crash that took the lives of five Georgia Southern nursing students in 2015. On April 22, 2015, a US Xpress-owned Total Transportation tractor-trailer hit the carload of students on their last day of clinical rotations for their first year of nursing school, killing all five passengers.

Undoubtedly devastating to the families and all involved.

The problem is that Isakson is using this tragedy to push an agenda – speed limiters – without actually knowing all the facts of the crash. No one really does just yet. The crash reconstruction isn’t even done yet. The settlement to the families is completed, but the actual cause of the crash has not been determined.

The problem with Isakson’s emotional legislative knee-jerk is that the truck was likely speed limited. All Total Transportation company-owned trucks are. It will be a while before the reconstruction is released and we can 100 percent confirm this, but anyone with any knowledge of US Xpress and Total Transportation knows those companies like the bells and whistles of speed limiters and collision warning systems.

But even as I am, admittedly, assuming that the truck had a speed limiter, Isakson is putting a possible mandate into play based on a guess as well.

Bottom line, we don’t know what happened just yet – and we may not know.

Laws and regulations must be based only on what we do know. The facts. The irrefutable facts.

No reactive law without solid justification is going to make those families whole again. Push too hard on some of these mandates like speed limiters, and we could even see an unintended consequence of more tragedies with a rise in passenger cars rear-ending trucks. LL