WASHINGTON DC (NEXSTAR) – Families who have lost loved ones in semi-truck accidents traveled to the nation’s capital to fight for safer roads across the country.
A steel bar can mean the difference between life and death.
That’s what families who have lost loved ones in semi-truck accidents are telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week.
“He probably would be here today,” said Laurie and Randy Higginbotham.
The Higginbothams lost their 33-year-old son Michael when he crashed into a tractor-trailer that illegally turned in front of him.
He was only going about 30 miles per hour.
“The police told us Michael would have been better off hitting a brick wall at 50 miles per hour,” the Memphis man’s parents said.
The Higginbothams joined dozens of other families from across the country with the Truck Safety Coalition to lobby for what’s called an underride guard on the side of semis.
“This bill will make our roads safer,” said Pam Biddle, a former Fort Wayne resident who lost her son in a semi accident near Terra Haute.
They also want Congress to require automatic emergency braking in new trucks, and increase the amount of insurance trucking companies are required to have.
“This crash not only affected our family, devastated it, but it also devastated the truck driver’s family,” the Higginbothams said.
Bills to cover these issues have failed in the past, but lawmakers say there is more support this time.
Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright made a career of representing victims of truck crashes.
“When you have all of this traffic coming through your area, you get the good and the careful, but you get the bad and the ugly,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) Pennsylvania.
Trucking groups have opposed legislation like this due to concerns about the cost and extra weight to the trucks.
But the families of victims stress that safety of semis should be just as important as any other type of transportation.
“Most of the time, the trucking fatalities and severe injuries are one at a time. It doesn’t make the same impact as if a 747 crashed,” the Higginbothams said.
According to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 4,000 people died in large truck crashes in 2017.
Most were drivers or passengers of cars, while about 20 percent were truck drivers.