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Local woman meets with legislators over truck safety

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Kimberly Telep, a Truck Safety Coalition volunteer from Harrisburg, met Thursday with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta and Bill Shuster in their state offices.

She discussed truck safety issues, said a news release from the coalition, including the dangers of increasing truck sizes and weight limits, entry-level driver training requirements and implementation of the drug and alcohol testing clearinghouse rule.

Her husband, Bradley Telep, died Aug. 29, 2012, after a tractor-trailer swerved and hit him on the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver was under the influence of heroin at the time and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Telep was joined by Dorothy Wert, whose husband, David Wert Sr., was killed in a crash on May 23, 2011, in DuBois, when an inexperienced driver left his broken-down truck parked in the middle of a dark highway with no lights, warning signals or flares.

A 35-year truck driver, Wert was unable to stop his truck in time and crashed into the back of the unlit truck.

Congress is beginning the reauthorization process for the federal surface transportation bill with the possibility of an increase in the federal truck size and weight limits for trucks, the release states.

Between 2005-2011, there were 1,220 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in Pennsylvania. In 2011, large trucks were involved in 9.1 percent of fatal crashes in the state, the coalition said.

The American Trucking Associations recently called on lawmakers to “be more precise in defining ‘large trucks’ and in looking at crash accountability so the trucking industry’s safety record can be more accurately measured and understood.”

Founded in 1933, the ATA is a leading advocate for the trucking industry.

Pennsylvania is already struggling to maintain and expand its deteriorating infrastructure, the coalition said. The group pointed to a 2010 study that found the state needs an additional $3.5 billion per year in order to fully meet the state’s transportation infrastructure needs.

The state passed a transportation bill at the end of 2013 that is expected to generate at least $2.3 billion a year to repair the state’s bridges, highways and public transit.

Introduced in February by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the drug and alcohol testing clearinghouse rule would establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial driver’s license holders.

The clearinghouse would help improve roadway safety by making it easier to determine whether a truck or bus driver is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle for failing to comply with federal drug and alcohol regulations, including mandatory testing, the FMCSA said in a news release.

The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers.

The coalition “is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policymakers and media about truck safety issues,” the group says on its website.

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