On July 12, 2009, the OTA became aware of a “Letter to the Editor” published in The Oklahoman. Dan Case, Executive Director of the OTA, responded to the letter this week. Listed below are the original letter and the OTA’s response.

Original Letter (from The Oklahoman):

Letter to the Editor

July 12, 2009

Those Deadly Trucks

Regarding Crash scene was “like a tornado” (news story, June 28): Oklahoma is one of the states that allow big rigs to go 75 miles per hour and Oklahoma has a higher-than-average rate of accidents involving these rigs. Oklahoma also has a higher –than-average fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.

Citizens have been duped into feeling “safe” if they wear a seat belt while big rigs are speeding, drivers are falling asleep or are tired or are talking on a cell phone. Fatality rates went up immediately on the select highways on which speed limits were increased, but the heavy foot lobby cleverly mixes these increased rates with the “total statewide” or “national statistics” to hide them from public knowledge.

You can thank lawmakers who sold out to the trucking lobby for the increased speed limits.

Herman Lenz, Sumner, Iowa

OTA Response:

RE: “Those Deadly Trucks” July 12, 2009

The Oklahoma Trucking Association and its members’ hearts and prayers go out to all of those affected by this tragic accident. This accident occurred at a time when trucking has had the best safety record since the Department of Transportation began keeping crash statistics in the 1960s. Truck-involved traffic fatalities declined 12% nationwide last year and have dropped 17% from 1999 to 2007 in Oklahoma.

In our effort to prevent these accidents, all truck drivers must pass a physical examination to determine that they are not at risk for anything that might impair their ability to drive. We are one of the leading industries in researching and treating sleep conditions such as Sleep Apnea. While our proactive approach towards sleep disorders is overlooked, the public needs to be aware of these disorders as well. Drivers of passenger vehicles have four times more accidents caused by being asleep at the wheel than truck drivers.

In regards to higher speed limits, as a long-time lobbyist for the Oklahoma trucking industry, I have never been asked to support truck speeds at 75 mph. Most trucking companies have self-enforced speed limits of 65 mph and the American Trucking Associations has asked Congress to support their effort to lower the national truck speed limit to 65 mph.

We do our best to prevent this very kind of tragedy from occurring and we wish that the public would realize the lengths the trucking industry goes to in order to prevent this very type of catastrophe.