Press Release: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Press Release: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

Broad Coalition Says NO to Putting Corporate Profit before Public Safety; Crash Victims, Law Enforcement, Labor, and Safety Groups Urge Senators to Reject “Wish List” of Trucking Industry Interests

FULL APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE VOTE ON THURSDAY

WASHINGTON, DC (Tuesday, June 23, 2015) – Today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) advanced the FY2016 THUD Appropriations bill which includes anti-truck safety provisions. A broad coalition including relatives of truck crash victims, law enforcement, labor and safety groups joined with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) afterwards to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject these dangerous and deadly provisions.

The full Appropriations Committee will markup the spending bill on Thursday, when it is expected that Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will offer an amendment, similar to the provision in the House-passed bill, to force every state to allow the operation of trucks pulling “double 33s” twin trailers that would amount to a combined length of 84 feet – longer than an eight story building.

A small minority of the trucking industry, including FedEx and the American Trucking Associations, is championing this major change in national transportation policy. It is widely opposed by trucking companies, the public, law enforcement, truck drivers, safety groups, short line railroads, and railway suppliers, among others. States and elected officials throughout the country have also spoken loud and clear on this issue.

A chronology of opposition:

  • On June 1, the S. Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the House opposing the measures.
  • On June 5, the S. Department of Transportation released the long-awaited findings of the truck size and weight study and determined that because of profound data limitations, there should be no changes in federal truck size and weight laws and limits.
  • On June 5, Republican state lawmakers from Pennsylvania sent a letter pleading with Congress not to increase truck size and weights because of the enormous infrastructure, safety and financial costs to the state.
  • On June 10, 15 CEOs of major trucking companies across the country sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations leadership objecting to the economic and competitive consequences of such a major change in national freight policy to financially benefit a few select companies like FedEx and others.
  • On June 16, the Illinois State Senate unanimously passed a resolution against federal changes in truck size and weight laws.
  • On June 18, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee stating that there has not been sufficient dialogue on the impacts of these provisions and the appropriate committees of jurisdiction have not reviewed them.
  • And, today, in the home state of Appropriations Committee Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), the Mississippi Transportation Commission passed a resolution opposing bigger and heavier trucks because it will override their decision-making and degrade safety on Mississippi roads.

The following quotes are from speakers at today’s U.S. Capitol news conference:

Jackie Gillan, president, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety:

“Before today is over, 11 people will die in large truck crashes and 275 more will be injured. We urge Congress to put the brakes on the runaway trucking industry agenda of safety repeals and rollbacks. It is on a deadly collision course with public safety. Everyday opposition is growing and the evidence is more compelling that anti-truck safety measures will result in more crashes, deaths and injuries.”

Joan Claybrook, chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“It’s not enough that trucking interests want victims and their families to bear the emotional costs of truck crashes but they also want them to bear the economic costs of hospitalizations and medical care. It is literally a trucking industry ‘hit and run’ leaving innocent truck crash victims and their families on the side of the road without sticking around to help.”

Lisa Shrum (Fayette, MO) whose mother Virginia and stepfather Randy were killed in a truck crash involving a FedEx double trailer truck:

“I urge the Senators on the Appropriations Committee to think about your families and their safety before you vote to put FedEx in the driver’s seat and ignore the dangers of oversized and overweight trucks. Our families need your protection.”

Fred McLuckie, International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

“More than 600,000 of our 1.4 million members start their workday by turning a key in a vehicle. The road is their workplace, roads that are congested like never before. It is irresponsible to allow larger, heavier trucks on our highways while potentially allowing employers to keep drivers on the road for more than 80 hours a week.”

Andrew Matthews, Chairman, National Troopers Coalition:

“On behalf of the National Troopers Coalition’s 42,000 members, we ask the Senate to oppose any amendment forcing the states to allow heavier and longer trucks on our nation’s highways. Every day our members witness the dangers that these longer tractor-trailers pose to the motoring public and our troopers. If ‘Twin 33s’ become legal, this could ultimately replace 53-foot singles as one of the most commonly used configurations.”

Ed Slattery (Lutherville, MD), board member, Parents Against Tired Truckers, whose wife Susan was killed and sons, Peter and Matthew, seriously injured in a triple-trailer truck crash caused by a truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel:

“I urge Senators in both parties to think about the thoughts coursing through my head each night as I go to sleep. You think about re-election. I think about Matthew having another seizure in the middle of the night. You think about campaign promises that you’ve made. I think about what the last seconds of my wife’s live were like. Did she see the truck barreling down on her in the rear view mirror? Does she know her boys lived, albeit severely injured? You might wonder what you’d do if this happened to your family. I don’t have to wonder. I urge the Senate to vote for families. I urge you to vote against heavier trucks that threaten our highways and bridges. I urge you to vote for the American people who oppose larger and heavier trucks by a very large majority.”

Robert Mills, Officer, Forth Worth (TX) Police Department:

“I am on the highways every day for my job. I see firsthand the dangerous conditions motorists, truck drivers and law enforcement face. It confounds me that Congress is considering actions to make our roads even less safe considering 4,000 people die every year in truck crashes and nearly 100,000 more are injured.”