We’re finished, finally, with our meetings on The Hill. We’ve talked to legislative staff members, subcommittee members, transportation aides, heads of agencies, chief of staffs, a Senator, cab drivers and a Cabinet Member. Everywhere we go we express our frustration with the lack of speed we see coming out of the DOT (Department of Transportation), an agency tasked with the admittedly huge responsibility to implement many of the safety advances spelled out in the Reauthorization Bill passed last August.
Sitting at the huge conference table in the Transportation Secretary’s suite we heard over and over that mandating strong rear crash guards and speed governors, finishing the rule that mandates Electronic On Board Recorders, moving ahead to increase minimum insurance levels required by truck companies, putting together an objective study on size and weight, well, these things all take time. And study. Lots and lots of study. Because they want their T’s crossed and their I’s dotted. Repeatedly we were told we didn’t understand that it’s hard to get things finished in Washington. That there are lots of levels that had to be moved through before the common sense issues could be resolved. That we were impatient and naive.
Yea. We get that.
But let me tell you, if I preformed at my job the way it seems these projects are being handled I’d be unemployed. In the world of business, industry, retail, just about any workplace you can imagine, results are what matter. How many times, when asked by your boss to meet a deadline have you been able to respond with a study? Particularly a study to study the previous studies that have been done on your problem? How often are you allowed to miss a deadline, consistently come in late with a project, and make the excuse that it’s hard? We all have hard jobs. We all face difficult decisions. But eventually we all have to be adults and make a choice…go one way or another…do the best we can with the information we have.
Nothing in this world is perfect and you can spend a lifetime trying to be sure you don’t make a mistake, trying to find the perfect solution, a solution that will make all people happy. Handling problems is hard. That’s why they’re called problems. But some problems have easier solutions than others. Some problems are no-brainers.
Strengthening rear crash guards is a no-brainer. The ones mandated on trucks now fail at an unacceptable rate. Canada and Europe have a better guard, and have for years. It shouldn’t be that difficult to transfer information from them to our own trucks. Raising the amount of insurance carriers are required to have is a no-brainer. $750,000 per crash isn’t enough to handle the medical bills for the first week a victim is in the hospital, not to mention a lifetime of rehab and care. Recognizing that heavier trucks will cause more destruction, more death, more injury is a no-brainer. But let’s be sure. Let’s put together a 2 year study. That’s the ticket.
We met with the DOT Monday afternoon. While we were there people died in truck crashes across the country. Monday afternoon in Charlotte NC the driver of a disabled SUV and a good Samaritan were hit by a semi. The good Samaritan was able to stop his car, get out and try to help the driver a the SUV, but the semi couldn’t stop? Why is that? Also Monday an Arizona public safety officer was killed, sitting in his car on the shoulder of the road while investigating another crash. So at least 3 people died while we were sitting in meetings discussing moving along on projects that will save lives. Not perfect solutions, but solutions that will save lives nevertheless.
Patience. We were told to have patience. The federal government moves slowly they said. These things take time they said. We need to study the ramifications they said. We’ll get back to you on that they said. Well. Tell all that to the three families devastated Monday. Ask them for a little patience. Then imagine it was your family. How patient would you be?