I’ve driven north on the New Jersey Turnpike, I dunno, hundreds of times in my life. Let me tell you, that stretch between exits 7 and 8A (after the flood of cars at exit 6 from the Penna. Turnpike and before the turnpike splits so cars can drive on truck-free lanes) is always terrifying. Here’s how it goes. Stop and go traffic at exit 7. Then everyone speeds up. Then suddenly traffic stops. It’s like that for 20 miles. I spend as much time focused on the vehicle in front of me as the car or truck behind me, praying that all essential brakes work. In fact, I’ve probably done more praying on the New Jersey Turnpike than anywhere else in my life.
The crash that critically injured Tracy Morgan and killed his friend after being hit from behind by a sleep-deprived Wal-Mart truck driver happened right there. It’s bad enough that truck drivers don't leave enough room to brake. Apparently, some haven’t slept either, and this is allowed - and may get worse - thanks to the power of the trucking lobby and their friends in Congress. Reports NBC News, this crash “comes days after a Senate panel approved a proposal to roll back new rules, first proposed in 2010, forcing truck drivers to pull over and log a minimum number of hours for rest. Since the new hours of service rules took effect last July, the industry has fought hard against the rest regulations.” Yesterday,
Joan Claybrook, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, held a conference call with reporters ….
“This is a major moment, really, to stop the trucking industry from using its major clout,” Claybrook said. “It seems no matter what we do, in terms of pushing to get safer trucks on the road, the trucking industry uses its clout to undo those improvements or stop any ones we push.…”
When it comes to trying to escape responsibility for safety problems on the roads, however, GM continues to outdo itself. Or at least it did. We’ll see. This story out of Texas is particularly sickening.
Candice Anderson was driving a 2004 Saturn Ion in November of 2004 when the car suddenly veered off a road and ran into a tree in Van Zandt County, Texas. Her fiance, Gene Mikale Erikson, who was 25 at the time, was killed. Anderson, then 21, was severely hurt.
Because there were no skid marks, authorities believed Anderson was at fault and charged her with negligent homicide, according to the lawsuit. Believing she was to blame, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years of deferred punishment and 260 hours of community service. She also was required to pay for Erikson’s funeral and $3,500 in court costs, according to a spokeswoman for her lawyer, Robert Hilliard.…
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government’s road safety watchdog, confirmed last week for Erickson’s mother, Rhonda, that the crash was caused by the [faulty GM ignition] switch, Hilliard said. “For the first time in 10 years, Ms. Anderson’s burden of guilt has been lifted,” Hilliard said.…
Candice is now suing GM while trying to clear her criminal record. Really, there are no words.
And don't forget that GM now has no legal liability for this crash, having insisted on immunity for all pre-bankruptcy (July 2009) product liability claims. Let’s see if they step up now.