Members of the trucking industry are seething over a New York Times op-ed piece entitled “Trucks Are Killing Us” written by former American Trucking Association executive Howard Abramson who also acted as the former editor of Transport Topics.
Article Demonizes Trucking Industry
The article, which begins with invoking the Tracy Morgan crash as a representation of everything wrong and dangerous about trucking, goes on to make dramatic claims about the dangers that trucks pose on the highways.
According to Abramson:
“More people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years.“
Abramson goes on to state that fatalities (or “carnage”, as Abramson later put it) in truck crashes have risen 17% from 2009 to 2013 while there was a 3% drop in “car deaths” over the same period. The article claims that trucking companies have resisted utilizing technology like speed limiters and collision avoidance systems that would reduce fatal crashes.
Congress Accused of “Coddling” Trucking
“Trucks Are Killing Us” accuses Congress of coddling the trucking industry and loosening safety standards in order to bolster the bottom line of trucking companies.
ATA Says NY Times Stats Are Misleading
A report written in response to “Trucks Are Killing Us” from the ATA’s James Jaillet says Abramson’s article was “riddled with debunked stats.” Jaillet writes that according to federal data, over 66% of all serious truck crashes are caused by someone other than the professional driver. Jaillet also says that isn’t true that the trucking industry is resistant to safety technology. Jaillet also points out that Abramson does not seem to be aware of the latest changes to HOS regulations.
Current Transportation Topics Editor Responds to Predecessor
Current executive editor for Transport Topics Jack Roberts also fired back at Abramson’s op-ed in a blog post entitled “Note to disgruntled former trucking editors: Trucks are not killing us.”
In his blog, Roberts writes:
“The idea that trucking today is an under-regulated, out-of-control industry hell-bent on delivering goods — cost and civilians be damned — is so out of date as to be laughable.“
Roberts goes on to note that the trucking industry is experiencing an unprecedented number of new safety regulations and technology — though he does admit that it will take trucking companies time and money to implement new safety measures.
The blog post even makes the attack against Abramson personal. Roberts adroitly notes that the trucking industry is getting safer and that “to suggest otherwise is irresponsible and hypocritical, especially coming from someone who drew a nice paycheck from the trucking industry for 16 years.”