Make truck cabs safer, associations urge

| 6/9/2011

Truckers and carriers are calling on a federal regulatory agency to protect drivers by making truck cabs safer.

While the federal government continues to focus on crashworthiness standards for cars and light trucks, commercial vehicles and drivers have been neglected for too long, representatives from OOIDA and ATA stated in a joint letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and American Trucking Associations are calling for comprehensive research and data analysis of how crashworthiness standards for truck cabs could have safety benefits for drivers.

“We support research as the basis for potential crashworthiness standards for Class 7 and 8 commercial trucks (i.e. trucks with a GVW of more than 26,000 pounds) and believe that NHTSA research in this area may contribute to the development of such standards,” the associations stated in a letter addressed to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. The letter went out Wednesday, June 8.

OOIDA’s Todd Spencer and ATA’s Dave Osiecki stated in the letter that rollover crashes account for approximately 63 percent of fatal injuries to truck occupants. They said the number could be reduced by 23 percent if the structural integrity of the cab were improved.

They are calling on NHTSA to consider measures for protecting occupant survival space; better restraint systems including airbags, stronger windshields and doors; and more forgiving interior surfaces such as energy absorbing steering columns and padded surfaces, the associations stated.

“The substance of the NHTSA research should consider the need to further prevent or diminish crash injury outcomes for truck occupants through the use of suitable crash protection systems that protect against roll over, ejection, fire and frontal impacts,” they said.

On Nov. 13, 2009, truck driver and OOIDA Member Carl VanWasshnova of Port Orange, FL, was killed in a low-speed crash with another truck at a toll interchange. Carl’s widow, Sara VanWasshnova, has taken the issue of cab crashworthiness to Capitol Hill in an effort to get a bill passed.