The founder of a polarizing trucking interest group was among 11 people honored by the White House earlier this week as a “Champion of Change.”

Daphne Izer started Parents Against Tired Truckers 20 years ago when her son and three other teenagers were killed by a trucker who was driving beyond the allowed hours-of-service limits and fell asleep at the wheel.

“Surviving grief and anger over the death of her son and his friends, Daphne has channeled her family’s tragedy into action by dedicating herself to protecting others from becoming casualties of fatigued truck drivers and promoting the use of technology to bring greater accountability with federal drive time limits,” wrote Anne Ferro, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, on the agency’s website. “She has fought to make sure that truck drivers today are getting more of the rest they need for their own health and for the safety of those who share the road with them.”

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx honors Daphne Izer as a Transportation Champion of Change at the White House on May 13, 2014.

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx honors Daphne Izer as a Transportation Champion of Change at the White House on May 13, 2014.

According to the White House, the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the administration “to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.”

Izer has been controversial in trucking. Some support her calls for mandatory electronic logging devices for truckers to monitor compliance with federal hours of service rules, along with her opposition of bigger and heavier trucks, among other issues. Others are on the opposite side of the fence and see her efforts as anti-trucking.

Even some who believe in her goals disagree with Izer's and PATT’s use of negative stereotypes of drivers and the industry to lobby federal and state lawmakers and regulators.

In speaking out against a plan in Congress during 2011 to allow heavier trucks on Vermont roads she said, "Congress must stop this deadly exemption right now. This special interest pilot project used motorists as human guinea pigs in a killer experiment. The results are clear -- more deaths, more dangerous trucks, more damage to our already compromised infrastructure, and more costs - which are not paid for by the industry but by the taxpayers."

In 2002 PATT joined forces with the lobby group the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, commonly known as CRASH, to form the Truck Safety Coaltion, and moved both headquarters to Washington, D.C.

CRASH was founded in 1990 and also is often seen by the industry as anti-trucking.

About the author
Evan Lockridge

Evan Lockridge

Former Business Contributing Editor

Trucking journalist since 1990, in the news business since early ‘80s.

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