Families push for tractor-trailer regulations

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Three families from across North Carolina came to the Piedmont to ask for U.S. Senator Richard Burr's support in their push to require truckers to have more insurance, tractor-trailers to have more underride guards and for a federal freeze on truck weight and size.

The Truck Safety Coalition and these families claim stricter guidelines for big trucks could save lives. Across the country, 80,000 people are injured and more than 4,000 people killed in crashes involving trucks every year.

Jennifer Tierney of Kernersville lost her father in a truck related crash and said, "It was a completely preventable crash.  That's why we have to demand that they make our highways safer for everyone. There is a constant battle with the industry to make the trucks heavier and larger and we don't want to see trucks get any bigger."

Tierney, along with Marianne Karth of Rocky Mount and her family, told Senator Burr that the only way lives would be saved is if the federal guidelines, which haven't been changed in more than 20 years, are improved.

"In the twinkling of an eye, our whole lives were changed and it was devastating enough to have lost them, for them to have died, but then to think it might have been preventable? Why hasn't something been done when it can be done," asked Karth.

The Truck Safety Coalition says truck crash fatalities have risen in recent years. The group also claims multi-trailer trucks are 32 percent more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. The coalition also claims larger trucks do costly damage to our highways and bridges.

The American Trucking Association said many manufacturers are producing trucks with better than required safety underride guards.

Other trucking groups often blame car drivers for the crashes, not the truck drivers.

Senator Burr promised he would take a closer look at federal legislation related to truck safety.

"There is more we can do in this country and I think that we look at where there is federal jurisdiction and where those guidelines can be in place. If we only save one life, we've done the right thing," said Burr.