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Truck deaths mount in state

first_imgWASHINGTON – Deadly big-rig crashes are piling up on California freeways, putting the Golden State second only to Texas in the sheer number of annual truck fatalities, a study released Monday found. While the number of per-capita fatalities in California is fairly low – about 1.16 crash deaths per 100,000 people compared with 8.09 deaths per 100,000 people in Wyoming – deadly truck crashes in the state have risen two years in a row. Last year, California had 415 fatal truck crashes. Nationally, 5,190 people died last year in truck crashes. The Truck Safety Coalition, made up of four consumer safety groups that released the study, maintain that trucker fatigue is the top reason for deadly crashes. It called on federal officials to limit the number of hours drivers can be on the road before they must pull over to sleep. He also noted that while the raw numbers of crashes have gone up recently, when fatalities are calculated per 100 million miles, California has seen a steady decline. Since 1997, the number of California highway miles traveled by truckers annually has shot up from 14.5 billion miles to 18.9 billion. The state suffered 1.65 deaths per 100 million miles, lower than the federal fatality goal for the year. Activists also said Monday that they are outraged by a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory ordering regulators not to cite or even document noncompliance with the rules until December. The group issued a “travel warning” to motorists telling them to be especially wary of trucks in the next few months. “Bad as the rule is, they’re not even going to enforce that,” Claybrook said. “This is an invitation to death and injury for truck drivers and families on the highways.” Lee said the agency will continue to monitor egregious violations, but wants to give the industry time to educate drivers “because of the complexity and impact of the rule.” Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “Too many trucks on the highways are sweatshops on wheels,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, one of the safety advocate groups. Calling large trucks “rolling time bombs on our highways,” she and other activists urged Congress to reject a pending federal regulation they say will lead to more crashes. The federal rule, which went into effect Oct. 1, allows a 14-hour workday with truckers required to rest 10 hours for every 11 hours of driving. Previously, truckers could drive only 10 consecutive hours in a 15-hour workday. Patricia Lee, a spokeswoman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said while the regulations do allow an extra hour of driving time, by shortening the day “the rules put them closer to a regular schedule. It allows them more opportunity for rest.” But activists feel those regulations don’t go far enough, and are fighting attempts by the trucking industry to codify it in an upcoming appropriations bill moving through the Senate. In California, truckers carrying only intrastate goods can ride up to 12 hours a shift. California Highway Patrol Capt. Andrew Jones said while fatigue is often an associated factor in truck crashes, speed is the top reason for crashes. last_img read more