Proposals to Allow Longer Trucks on Our Nation’s Roadways Will Jeopardize Safety, Further Damage Our Infrastructure, and Disregard Public Opinion on Truck Size
Thirty-three-foot double-trailer trucks are 10 feet longer than the existing double configurations they would replace and are 17 feet longer than the 53-foot single-trailer trucks on the road today. A mandate by Congress for these longer trucks would override the laws of most states. Moreover, public opinion polls show that the American public has consistently affirmed their overwhelming support for truck size limitations. A nationwide survey conducted by Harper Polling in January 2015 found that 76 percent of respondents oppose longer and heavier trucks. This reaffirmed findings from a public opinion poll conducted by Lake Research Partners in May 2013 that found 68 percent of Americans oppose heavier trucks and 88 percent of Americans do not want to pay higher taxes for the damage caused by heavier trucks.
Longer Trucks Will Be More Dangerous to Motorists, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists and Pedestrians
The annual cost to society from crashes involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) is estimated to be over $112 billion.
Nearly all of the large multi-trailer combination trucks, as well as single unit trucks, examined in the 2000 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study had worse roll stability, and in some instances by wide margins, than the standard five-axle semitrailer combination loaded to 80,000 lbs.
A study conducted by the Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC) shows that double-trailer configurations have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.
Longer Trucks Compromise Operating Characteristics
As truck length increases, passing and merging become more difficult—increasing the odds of failure to pass.
Increasing 28-foot double-trailer trucks to 33-foot double-trailer trucks results in a 33 percent increase in low-speed off-tracking and a 22 feet longer stopping distance. This means greater hazards to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and motorists in their path, as well as more damage to infrastructure.
Longer Trucks Will Cause More Damage to Our Fragile Infrastructure
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $143 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis over the next 20 years to significantly improve conditions and performance.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation a grade of D+ on our infrastructure. Our roads were graded D and bridges, C+.
Longer Trucks Will Result in Increased Costs to Tax Payers
Unintended Costs Will Result from Longer Trucks:
Highway hardware – costs to assess guard rails, crash pads, rail crossings, etc. and the costs for replacement when assessment determines the hardware is insufficient;
Accessory infrastructure – costs to assess bridge and roadway ratings and capacity, to produce and install signs and warnings, to make improvements to accommodate larger trucks, to repair pavement torsion caused by non-steering axles (also called tire scrubbing), and to maintain roadway and bridge infrastructure at increased rates of wear and damage;
Truck facilities – cost for improvements necessary to accommodate larger trucks, new or modified weight scales, new and modified parking and fuel facilities.
According to the 2007 Transportation for Tomorrow report, mandated by Congress, heavy trucks are underpaying their fair share for highway use. The report also found that user fee fairness could be achieved through weight-distance taxes and heavy trucks should pay an infrastructure damage fee. Moreover, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, which only contributes $1 billion annually to the Highway Trust Fund—had not been changed since the early 1980s.
Longer Doubles are Premised on “Junk Science” and Flawed Analysis Conducted by Industry-Funded Research
The Woodrooffe study, on which many of the safety and efficiency claims for double 33s are based, was produced under contract to Federal Express (FedEx) and ConWay. It contains three serious flaws:
It makes the spurious assumption that two trailers of different lengths (28 v 33 feet) would both be filled to equal weights despite carrying different volumes of freight;
It ignores the fact that 33 foot trailers would weigh more when empty than 28 foot trailers, which would decrease the calculated efficiency estimates on those portions of trips when operating below capacity or empty; and,
It miscalculates the comparative increase in payload (volume) of 33 foot trailers as compared to 28 foot trailers.
Both Law Enforcement Officers and Truck Drivers Consider Longer Trucks More Dangerous
In the MTIC study, 21 Officers were interviewed and 20 officers indicated “that longer and heavier trucks would be ‘more dangerous’ because the additional length and weight would add new factors to an already complicated chain of events.”
Likewise, surveyed truck drivers are consistent in their opinion that heavier and/or longer trucks impact safety. Eighty-eight percent believed that a higher use of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) would negatively impact highway safety.
By Tanya Snyder – Politico Pro
03/14/2017 05:16 PM EDT
Bipartisan concern emerged today at a Senate hearing about a proposal to allow trucks carrying twin 33-foot trailers on highways.
“A federal mandate would preempt laws of states that do not want them on road, overriding state legislative decisions to protect public safety,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), whose amendment blocked a proposal in 2015 to allow the double trailers nationwide.
At today’s Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation hearing, Wicker cited statistics showing that twin-trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks and that 22 percent more people died in large-truck-related crashes in 2015 than in 2009.
Currently, states can choose whether or not to allow the double trailers.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), highlighted the damage the double trailers cause not just to safety but to infrastructure — a $1.1 billion toll, he said, citing DOT statistics.
The truckload industry — the 78 percent of trucks on roads which deliver a truckload of goods to a single customer — strongly opposes allowing twin trailers, while UPS, FedEx and Amazon are pushing to allow them.
Jerry Moyes, the founder of Swift Transportation, said that he found that even twin 28-foot trailers had a significant negative impact on safety — but that if twin 33s are allowed nationwide, competitive pressures would force about half of truckload carriers to switch — an expensive transition for the industry.