Group Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee to Oppose Truck Size and Weight Increases

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

Group Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee to Oppose Truck Size and Weight Increases

June 12, 2017

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman  

The Honorable David Price, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies  Committee on Appropriations    

U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515      

Dear Chairman Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Price:

As the Subcommittee prepares for Thursday’s hearing to review the FY 2018 budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), our broad and diverse coalition urges you to reject any provisions that would increase federal truck size and weight limits including the creation of any “pilot programs” or special interest exemptions to evade current limits. 

Current trends show that truck crashes are too frequent and too often are fatal.  In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks.  According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), this is an increase of more than 4 percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009.  Furthermore, this is the highest fatality number, and the first time truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000, since 2008.  Truck crash injuries are also rising significantly.  In 2015, 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks.  This is the highest number of injuries since 2004, and there has been a 57 percent increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes since 2009. The annual number of deaths and injuries is completely unacceptable and would not be tolerated in any other mode of transportation.

In addition to this massive death and injury toll, our nation’s roads continue to receive a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.  The report revealed that one of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and that there is a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs. Additionally, one in eleven of the nation’s 615,000 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory were structurally deficient.  

Any proposals that would allow heavier and longer trucks on our nation’s roads and bridges will further endanger the safety of motorists, and inflict even more damage and destruction to our infrastructure and should be rejected. 

In fact, attempts to increase truck size and weight limits were defeated during the last Congressional session by both the Senate and the House in strong bipartisan votes.  In addition to documented safety and infrastructure problems, the American public consistently and overwhelmingly rejects bigger and heavier trucks in countless opinion polls.   

Furthermore, Congress directed the U.S. DOT to conduct a Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study in the 2012 MAP-21 law (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. 112-141).  In April of last year, U.S. DOT transmitted the completed study to Congress and recommended that no changes be made to federal truck size and weight laws. 

Trucks heavier than 80,000 pounds have a greater number of brake violations, which are a major reason for out-of-service violations. Alarmingly, trucks with out-of-service violations are 362 percent more likely to be involved in a crash, according to a North Carolina study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Tractor-trailers moving at 60 mph are required to stop in 310 feet – the length of a football field – once the brakes are applied.  Actual stopping distances are often much longer due to driver response time before braking and the common problem that truck brakes are often not in top working condition.  In 2016, violations related to tires and/or brakes accounted for five of the top ten most common vehicle out-of-service violations.  Moreover, increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 10 percent increases bridge damage by 33 percent.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that the investment backlog for bridges, to address all cost-beneficial bridge needs, is $123.1 billion.  The U.S. would need to increase annual funding for bridges by 20 percent over current spending levels to eliminate the bridge backlog by 2032.

The study also found that introducing double 33 foot trailer trucks, known as “Double 33s,” would be projected to result in 2,478 bridges requiring strengthening or replacement at an estimated one-time cost of $1.1 billion. It is important to note that this figure does not account for the additional, subsequent maintenance costs which will result from longer, heavier trucks.  Moreover, double trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. They also require more stopping distance, take more time to pass, have bigger blind spots, cross into adjacent lanes and swing into opposing lanes on curves and when making right angle turns. Simply put, bigger trucks mean bigger safety problems. 

We strongly oppose any so-called “pilot program” to allow heavier trucks in a select number of states because it opens the flood gates to widespread disregard for well-researched and wellsupported national policies.  The piecemeal approach also makes enforcement and compliance more difficult, burdens states with reasonable truck weights to succumb to pressure for higher weights, and creates deadly and costly consequences for highway safety and infrastructure. 

Despite misleading claims to the contrary, research and experience shows that allowing bigger, heavier trucks will not result in fewer trucks. Since 1982, when Congress last increased the gross vehicle weight limit, truck registrations have increased 95 percent. The U.S. DOT study also addressed this assertion and found that any potential mileage efficiencies from use of heavier trucks would be offset in just one year. 

Annual truck crash fatalities are equivalent to a major airplane crash every other week of the year.  Any change overturning current truck size and weight laws will further strain and erode our crumbling infrastructure, present dire safety risks and disrupt efficient intermodal freight transportation.  It is critical that any proposals which would increase the size or weight of trucks be rejected, including pilot programs and measures to preempt state limits.  Thank you for your consideration of our position.

Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee 

Oppose Longer Trucks

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.

Truck Driver Killed in a Truck Crash in Riverside County, CA

On May 11, 2016, at approximately 11:00 a.m., Miguel Rolon, 59, was driving a flatbed tractor-trailer eastbound on I-10, when the truck became disabled and stopped on the roadway. Mr. Rolon exited the truck and climbed onto the trailer waving his arms to warn traffic.  The driver of a Fed Ex semi-truck failed to see Mr. Rolon and crashed into the back of Mr. Rolon’s truck.

The impact threw Mr. Rolon to the ground. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Fed Ex truck driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to Desert Regional Hospital for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Bicyclist was Hit and Killed by Tractor-Trailer in Brooklyn, New York

On April 20, 2016, at approximately eight a.m., James Gregg, 33, was riding his bicycle on Sixth Avenue at Sterling Place when he was hit by a tractor-trailer who was driving along the side of him.

Mr. Gregg collided into the rear tire of the 18-wheeler truck and fell under the wheel. James Gregg died at the scene.

According to officials, the truck driver was given a summons for driving an overloaded vehicle. The crash is under investigation by the New York Police Department.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two Dead in a Tractor Trailer Wreck in Pulaski County, AR

On May 15, 2016, at approximately 11:40 p.m., Willetta Reaves, 40, and Danny Hollis, 51 were traveling eastbound on I-40, when the vehicle was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The impact sent the Cadillac into the guardrail and both vehicles overturned. Reaves and Hollis were pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two People Critically Injured After a Truck Crash in Benton County, WA

On May 2, 2016, at approximately 10:30 a.m., Agustin Gonzalez, 73, was traveling northbound on WA Highway 225, when a westbound tractor-trailer pulled into his path as the truck driver attempted to turn south onto Highway 225 from Highway 224. The two vehicles collided in the intersection.

Mr. Gonzalez and his wife, Maria Gonzalez, 74, were injured and transported to Kadlec Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The truck driver was not injured and he was cited for improper lane travel as a result of the crash.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

 

Middle School Teacher Died in a Truck Wreck in Cumberland County, ME

On April 20, 2016 at approximately 1:15 p.m., Adam Perron was driving a Pontiac Vibe westbound on U.S. Route 302, when a commercial truck driving east on U.S. Route 32, swerved into his path.

The truck driver struck Perron’s car on the driver’s side and continued down an embankment. The truck rolled over to the side trapping the truck driver inside.

Adam Perron, a teacher at Lake Region Middle School, died at the scene of the crash. The truck driver was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where he is currently in critical condition.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two Clarendon Women Killed in Truck Crash in Lonoke County, AR

On April 19, 2016, at approximately 9:30 a.m., when a woman identified as Linda Brewster, 47, and her passenger, Lora Piggee, 49, were traveling westbound on I-40 when a tractor-trailer struck the vehicle and a second semi-truck crashed into it from behind.

Both of the women died at the scene and neither of the truck drivers were injured. The crash is under investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

WE ARE HERE TO HELP

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition … 1 Killed, 1 Injured in Michigan Work Zone Truck Crash

In Michigan, two road workers were installing a highway sign at 5 p.m when a they were struck by a truck. The big rig crossed the white fog line into the work zone, killing one of the workers and injuring the other. The semi-truck driver was charged with reckless driving causing a death.

It is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and this fatal and injurious crash serves as a grave reminder that more must be done to ensure safety on our roads for the men and women that help fix and build them. Large trucks are involved in 30 percent of all fatal work zone crashes. TSC will continue supporting a federal mandate for forward collision avoidance mitigation braking on large trucks, and continue opposing efforts to allow Double 33s, which have a 22 foot longer stopping distance that existing double (28-foot) tractor trailers.

Link to Article: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2016/02/road_worker_killed_by_reckless.html

 

 

One Dead, Three Injured in Military Highway Truck Crash in Chesapeake City, VA

On April 4, 2016 at approximately 4:35 a.m., three adults traveling on Military Highway in a van pulled over to the side of the freeway to change a flat tire when a large dump crashed into them. One adult, identified as Lorena Kelly, died at the scene and the other two adults were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The truck driver of the dump truck was also taken to the hospital, but with minor injuries. The accident is under investigation.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit our Stop Bigger Trucks page or send an email to info@trucksafety.org.

                                                            WE ARE HERE TO HELP

 

Two People Killed in Richland County Truck Wreck

On March 31, 2016 at approximately 4:40 p.m., James Peagler, 80 and his sister, Jonell Peagler Weatherly, 78 were driving a Toyota SUV in South Carolina when they pulled onto U.S. 601 after stopping at the stop sign on Community Road.

A tractor trailer truck traveling south on U.S. 601 collided into the SUV causing the two victims to be trapped in the vehicle. Both victims died at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

To find more information please visit our Stop Bigger Trucks page or send an email to info@trucksafety.org.

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Overweight Dump Truck Crashes into Tractor-Trailer in NY, Multiple Citations Issued

An overweight dump truck failed to yield at a roundabout, crossed over the center median, and struck a tractor-trailer. While it is fortunate that neither driver was injured, it is unfortunate that the dump truck driver was allowed to operate given his blatant disregard of the law. Aside from disobeying traffic laws, the dump truck driver also failed to follow the rules governing trucking. The State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit found that the dump truck’s brakes were out of adjustment and that the truck was five tons too heavy. TSC supports stronger commercial motor vehicle enforcement to identify and remove truck drivers who disregard safety and imperil the public.

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Police-Overweight-truck-caused-Malta-roundabout-6871246.php

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

 

Dawn King Op-Ed: Trucking weight bill could impact safety, infrastructure

I became involved in the Truck Safety Coalition after my father, Bill Badger, was killed in 2004 near the Georgia state line by a tired trucker who had fallen asleep at the wheel after driving all night and crashed into his car.

The Michigan House of Representatives just passed an anti-truck safety bill, House Bill 4418, that would grant an exemption to seasonal weight restrictions, also known as the “frost law,” for trucks carrying maple sap.

As the president of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), I have educated myself and others about different policies affecting truck safety for more than ten years. At the same time, I have advocated for laws that would enhance truck safety and defended existing truck safety laws and regulations from being rolled back. I hope that others will join me and TSC in this opportunity to stand up for safety and protect a law that protects the people by opposing HB 4418.

Granting yet another exemption to Michigan’s “frost law” contradicts the original intent of the law. Seasonal weight limits, which reduce weight limits on maximum axle loads, maximum wheel loads and gross vehicle weights for commercial motor vehicles driven on state roads from March until May were established to protect our state’s infrastructure. Because of the freezing and thawing that occurs during the aforementioned months, the roads become far more susceptible to damage caused by heavy vehicles. Therefore, allowing heavier trucks carrying maple sap during these months will result in more road damage, in turn costing the taxpayers even more.

HB 4418 also ignores Michigan’s subpar infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers found 22 percent of Michigan roads are in poor condition and 28 percent of Michigan bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Lawmakers should not be enacting this exception that will further exacerbate Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Additionally, one of the arguments for HB 4418 is based on the erroneous claim that heavier trucks will result in fewer trucks. Increasing the truck weight limit will not decrease the number of trips, result in fewer miles traveled, or improve safety by reducing the number of trucks on the highways. Despite several increases in weights of large trucks over the past few decades, the number of trucks and miles traveled on U.S. highways has consistently gone up.

The number of fatalities as a result of truck crashes in Michigan has also grown. From 2011 to 2014, total fatalities from all crashes in Michigan increased by just 1.3 percent, while fatalities from truck crashes in our state increased by 61 percent during that same time. Clearly, truck safety in our state, like infrastructure, is worsening. Michigan lawmakers must address this problem, but allowing heavier trucks is not the solution.

Bills, like this one, that increase truck weight limits industry-by-industry are nothing more than a back door strategy by special interests to come back to our state legislature in several years and lobby for heavier truck weights statewide. We should not allow this special interest hand out to pass at the expense of our infrastructure and our safety.

Dawn King is the president of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), a nonprofit that is a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).

Link to Article: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/opinion/contributors/viewpoints/2016/03/11/king-trucking-weight-bill-impact-safety-infrastructure/81605236/

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

ARLINGTON, VA (December 16, 2015) – The United States Congress today released an omnibus spending bill that includes the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations legislation, H.R. 2577.

The Truck Safety Coalition worked closely with a coalition of survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, first responders, truck drivers, trucking companies, and safety advocacy groups to have 33-foot double tractor-trailers removed from the legislation. We hope to continue working with these groups to address missed opportunities to improve truck safety going forward.

We want to especially thank Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their leadership, and the hard work of their staffs, in our fight against these longer, less safe trucks.

We successfully advocated for the exclusion of a measure hindering a rulemaking to determine the adequacy of minimum insurance for motor carriers. The minimum financial requirement has not been raised in over 35 years, and is woefully inadequate. Congress should not be using overly burdensome study requirements to stop attempts to evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility.

While we are disappointed that the Collins rider affecting hours of service (HOS) was included in the omnibus, we will continue to educate the public and our lawmakers about the dangers of tired truckers. Requiring a truck driver to work up to 82 hours per week will only cause more fatigue related truck crashes, and, in turn, more injuries and deaths. Rather than acquiescing to industry demands, Congress should be making data-driven decisions. We hope that the release of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule will help law enforcement isolate bad actors and help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) obtain better data on truck driver fatigue.

Moving forward, we hope that Members of Congress will no longer try to use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect the safety and wellbeing of the public should be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.

Overall, the Truck Safety Coalition welcomes the improvements made to the THUD component of the omnibus spending bill, and will continue to work to improve the HOS rules.

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STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

ARLINGTON, VA (December 1, 2015) –The Senate and House Conferees today released a conference report for the surface transportation reauthorization bill, H.R. 22. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, as it is now known, removed several dangerous policies, improved upon other anti-safety measures, but unfortunately, included some troubling provisions. We are extremely thankful to the Members of Congress on the Conference Committee that listened to the facts and to the people; their hard work is evidenced by the positive changes made to the final bill.

Sections limiting shipper and broker liability in hiring decisions, allowing greater exemptions to hours of service requirements for classes of truck drivers, and prohibiting states from providing further break protections for drivers were ultimately removed from the final bill. These provisions only benefitted private interests at the expense of public safety. We are glad that reason prevailed, and that the Conferees advanced the interests of their constituents rather than the interests of corporations.

Language regarding the minimum level of insurance required by large trucks, crash weighting, and teen truckers was also improved. Conferees removed some of the overly burdensome hurdles that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would have to go through in reviewing the required level of minimum insurance for large trucks. They also decided that any crash weighting determination should be reviewed first by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), before requiring the FMCSA to engage in a costly ineffective review process. Additionally, by restricting the three-year teen trucker pilot program to veterans and servicemen above the age of 18, Congress greatly restricted the amount of higher-risk drivers that would be allowed to drive trucks across state lines.

Regrettably, measures allowing state and industry specific exemptions are still embedded in the bill. Weight exemptions for logging, milk products, and natural gas vehicles will endanger our roads and will set dangerous precedents for future weight exemptions. It is time for Congress to close the backdoor to nationwide weight increase and stop enacting these corporate earmarks.

Other troublesome provisions that remain include hiding Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores from public view and implementing a “beyond compliance” point system into CSA scores. Concealing scores that are collected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers on tax-payer-funded roads essentially robs the motoring public of two things: the ability to access data that they paid for and public safety.

Overall, the enhancements to the final bill shows that the Truck Safety Coalition’s concerns were heard, and we are thankful to the Members of Congress and their staffs that listened.

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Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker-Feinstein Amendment to Conduct Safety Study of Double 33s

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker-Feinstein Motion

To Conduct Safety Study of Double 33-Foot Trailers by Voice Vote

ARLINGTON, VA (November 19, 2015) – Yesterday, sound judgement prevailed and the U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, an amendment proposed by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to require a safety study on Double 33 tractor trailers before they are federally permitted.

This is a huge victory for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, and the American motoring public. We appreciate that the Senate voted responsibly by seeking to fully understand the safety impact of these longer trucks before considering whether they should be allowed on our roads.

This was a great win, but there is still a long road ahead. The amendment has to make it out of the Conference Committee, which will consolidate the House and Senate versions of the THUD Appropriations bills. The final bill must then be passed again by both chambers and signed into law by the President. We hope that the Senate’s second vote in two weeks to oppose a federal mandate requiring Double 33s sends a clear and consistent message to the House that safety must remain a top priority in crafting transportation policy.

A recent poll showed that 77% of Americans reject the ideas of these larger Double 33 tractor trailers being driven on our roads. We are pleased that the Senate listened to three out of four Americans, instead of the handful of industry lobbyists who are pushing this dangerous agenda with no regard for its effect on public safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is grateful for all the Members of Congress that listened to the stories of those who lost family members to truck crushes, and those who survived them. A special thank you goes out to Senators Wicker and Feinstein for their leadership on truck safety issues and for working tirelessly to underscore the dangers of allowing these longer trucks.

Statement of John Lannen – Passage of Wicker-Feinstein Amendment

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees on Safety Study of Double 33s

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees

To Study Safety Effects of Double 33 Foot Trailers by Margin of 56-31

ARLINGTON, VA (November 10, 2015) – Today, reason prevailed and the U.S. Senate voted in favor of Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Motion to Instruct Conferees to require a safety study of Double 33s before mandating these longer trucks on our roads. This nearly 2-1 vote was a major win for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, public health and safety groups, and the American public. We are pleased that the Senate employed a data-driven approach that allows for further study on the safety effects of Double 33s as well as an opportunity for public input.

In voting for this measure, Senators listened to the Department of Transportation recommendation that there should be no increase to truck size or weight because of insufficient data to support such a change. This was the right move, especially given the steadily worsening trends of truck crash fatalities and injuries. Congress should understand the impact of the length increase on pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, as well as the additional wear on our nation’s roads and bridges before mandating them. It is only logical to study this truck configuration further, which we already know takes 22-feet longer to stop and have a six-foot wider turning radius than Double 28s.

As the House and Senate head to conference to resolve the differences between their competing versions of the multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), there is still work to be done to improve the safety title of the final legislation. We ask negotiators to remove provisions that allow teenagers to drive trucks across state lines as well as those that hinder rulemaking to increase the minimum insurance required by large trucks. Rejecting measures to increase truck size and weight are a step in the right direction; however, allowing the aforementioned safety rollbacks to remain in the final bill would be a step backwards for safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the congressional support for truck crash survivors, the families of truck crash victims, and for our mission to promote safety. We want to specifically thank Senators Wicker and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their outstanding leadership on this issue.

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker MTI (Double 33s)

Victory for Truck Safety: Statement of John Lannen on Failure of Ribble Amendment

Contact: Beth Weaver | 301.814.4088, beth_weaver@verizon.net

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

House of Representatives Votes to Reject Truck Weight Increase on our Nation’s Highways by a Margin of 236 to 187

During Consideration of 6-Year Surface Transportation Bill (H.R. 22)

ARLINGTON, VA (November 4, 2015) – Last night, the House of Representatives voted and rejected an anti-safety amendment sponsored by Representatives Reid Ribble (WI), Kurt Schrader (CO), David Rouzer (NC), and Collin Peterson (MN). The amendment sought to increase the federal truck weight limit from 80,000-lbs. to 91,000-lbs. This vote was a victory for safety and for all those who travel on our highways. The American people have been clear and consistent in their opposition to heavier trucks and Members of the House listened.

In voting against this measure, Representatives dismissed recycled myths and instead made decisions driven by data. The Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted a study on Truck Size and Weight, required by Congress in MAP-21, and concluded that there should be no increase to truck size and/or weight. We are pleased that Members who voted in opposition to the Ribble Amendment appealed to logic and listened to the initial findings of the DOT study.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the Congressional support for our victims and for our mission to promote safety. During our biennial Sorrow to Strength conference, which took place two weeks prior to this vote, truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims came to Washington, D.C. to let their representatives know that there is a dire need to stem the increasing rates of truck crash deaths and injuries. Members were moved by the accounts of loss and tragedy.

We were proud to have joined a diverse coalition of safety advocates, law enforcement, labor, truck drivers, and trucking companies in this efforts. We are particularly thankful for the leadership of Representatives Jim McGovern (MA), Michael Capuano (MA), Lou Barletta (PA), Grace Napolitano (CA), and Jerrold Nadler (NY) in keeping safety at the forefront of the debate on the transportation bill.

Statement on Ribble Amendment

Letter to Senator Reid in Response Carl Pope Letter

August 6, 2015

The Honorable Harry Reid

Minority Leader

United State Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Senator Reid:

Thank you for your longstanding and ongoing leadership on highway and auto safety. We have been made aware of a letter recently sent to you regarding purported environmental and safety impacts of the proposal being advanced by FedEx and a few other trucking and delivery service companies to force states to allow double 33-foot tractor trailer trucks (double 33s) on their roads and highways (Letter from Carl Pope dated July 25, 2015). Unfortunately this letter contains numerous untruths, parrots industry propaganda, and underscores Mr. Pope’s lack of knowledge regarding the safety problems of large trucks, the increased damage to roads and bridges they will inflict, and general freight transportation issues.

Mr. Pope supports consideration of double 33s in place of the current national standard 28-foot trailers, but Mr. Pope’s facts are incomplete or incorrect. Mr. Pope’s letter asserts, “I have found no evidence in the testimony and submissions of those who opposed this change that it will impair safety…” showing that he is unaware of the studies that have found that the use of multiple trailers is associated with an 11% higher crash rate compared to single trailer combinations.[1] This statement also completely ignores the recent U.S. Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (DOT Study) that concludes there is a “profound” lack of data from which to quantify the safety impact of double 33s and consequently recommends that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations be considered until data limitations are overcome.[2]

Furthermore, Mr. Pope writes, “I have found no evidence in the testimony and submission of those who oppose this change that it will…increase wear and tear on our roads…” This statement overlooks the fact that the DOT Study stated that an empty double 33-foot trailer weighs 2,362 pounds more than an empty double 28-foot trailer,[3] increasing the overall and axle weights which inflict more damage to bridges and pavement, even when the truck is empty. Allowing longer trucks will also enable them to carry more weight for the same type of freight, further increasing the axle weights and bridge and pavement damage compared to current national standard 28-foot double trailers. Despite the letter’s admonishment that the Senate should allow longer “BUT NO HEAVIER” trucks, Mr. Pope appears astonishingly ignorant of the fact that longer trailers weigh more, and because they can carry more freight, will weigh even more when loaded than 28-foot trailers even if they do not reach the maximum federal weight limit. This obvious contradiction has eluded Mr. Pope.

Moreover, Mr. Pope is apparently not aware that the DOT Study predicted one time bridge costs for strengthening or repair of $1.1 billion for introducing the use of double 33s. This figure does not even include increases in annual costs for maintaining the bridge deck and road surface.[4] The DOT Study estimated that double 33s will inflict a 1.8% to 2.7% increase in the life cycle costs (maintenance) for roads and pavements.[5]

In addition, any theoretical reduction in trucks and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is only temporary.[6] After just one year even more trucks will be on the roads and bridges and many of them will be heavier double 33s which will pound the roads and damage bridges to an even greater extent than double 28s.

The letter continues by stating that, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will save substantial amounts of otherwise wasted fuel…” Yet, estimates of the impact of the shift to double 33s on fuel savings are almost entirely derived from estimated reductions in VMT. The total fuel consumption reduction calculated by the recent DOT Study is only 1.1%.[7]  The DOT Study also states clearly that any estimated benefits are so minimal that they would be offset in one year by the forecasted growth in shipments due to the expected annual increase in freight demand.[8] Moreover, the reduction in fuel consumption is only for the trucking sector and ignores the impact of shifting freight from more fuel efficient transportation modes, which in the end could increase overall fuel consumption. Regardless, the reduction in trucking fuel usage represents a pittance in terms of fuel conservation, and would be of little consolation to those highway users who may be killed or maimed as a result of the use of double 33s and who will be subsidizing the higher cost of road and bridge damage inflicted by these oversized trucks.

It should be noted that Mr. Pope’s letter does not address the fact that the industry estimates of VMT savings are wholly unrealistic and are based on a flawed study paid for by FedEx and other trucking industry supporters which assumes that both 28-foot and 33-foot double trailer trucks weigh the same – 80,000 lb.[9] This cannot possibly be true, and contradicts industry arguments that 28-foot doubles do not weigh 80,000 pounds when filled to capacity. In reality, 33-foot double trailer trucks would be heavier both when empty and when full, which undermines the industry’s estimate of theoretical fuel use reduction.

Mr. Pope also asserts, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will… reduce the number of trucks on our highways…” Once again, Mr. Pope appears to be blithely ignorant of the fact that increases in truck size and weight have never resulted in fewer trucks. Rather, every time there has been an increase in truck size and weight in the history of America, the result is more, not fewer, registered trucks and trailers.[10] Furthermore, as the DOT study points out, any theoretical reduction in the number of trucks on the road is ephemeral and will be wiped out in one year.[11]

Finally, he states that, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will… make the trucking sector more efficient – perhaps as much as 16-18% more efficient.” This 16% to 18% increase in efficiency is primarily based on the increased volume capacity of 33-foot trailers compared to 28-foot trailers.[12] Yet, for this theoretical efficiency to be achieved, every shipment must move with perfect efficiency from a 28-foot trailer to a 33-foot trailer. Current inefficiencies in the system, like empty (deadhead) trips, would further cut into this predicted efficiency when heavier and larger double 33-foot trailers travel empty or below capacity, and at the same time waste more fuel during these trips. Moving goods by rail has consistently been shown to be more fuel efficient, with rail fuel efficiency ranging anywhere from two to more than five times the fuel efficiency of trucks.[13] Increasing truck size and likely shifting freight from more fuel efficient modes to trucks could end up increasing overall fuel consumption.

We urge the Senate to require that more information and data are collected on the safety and infrastructure impacts a change in national transportation policy on truck lengths would cause. The “Feinstein-Wicker” amendment would accomplish this critically important step before moving forward with a rulemaking. Considering that truck crash fatalities have been on the rise the last four years (2009-2013), moving commercial motor vehicle safety laws and regulations in an unsafe direction is not sound and could result in even more needless deaths and injuries.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these surface transportation safety issues. We look forward to continuing to work together with you to advance safer roads and highways for our nation’s motorists.

Sincerely,

John Lannen, Executive Director

Truck Safety Coalition

 

Joan Claybrook, Chair

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

 

Jacqueline Gillan, President

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

 

Daphne Izer

Lisbon, ME

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer, Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

 

Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

 

Andrew McGuire, Executive Director

Trauma Foundation

 

Jennifer Tierney

Kernersville, NC

Board Member, CRASH

Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)

Daughter of James Mooney

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

 

Officer Robert Mills

Fort Worth Texas Police Department

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement

 

Investigator Wes Bement

Grand Prairie, TX Police Dept.

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement

 

Officer Kevin Cordell

Burleson, TX Police Dept.

 

Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, FL

Board Member, PATT

Mother of David Mathis

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis

Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

 

Tami Friedrich Trakh

Corona, CA

Board Member, CRASH

Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker & Anthony Mercurio

Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

 

Larry Liberatore

Severn, MD

Board Member, PATT

Father of Nick Liberatore

Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

 

Linda Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Board Member, PATT

Mother of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Laurie and Randall Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

Dawn King

Davisburg, MI

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, MD

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Husband of Susan Slattery

Killed in a truck crash 8/16/10

Sons Matthew & Peter Slattery critically injured

 

Kate Brown

Gurnee, IL

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Graham Brown

Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05

 

Marianne and Jerry Karth

Rocky Mount, NC

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of AnnaLeah and Mary Karth

Killed in a truck crash 5/4/13

 

Frank and Marchelle Wood

Falls Church, VA

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of Dana Wood

Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

 

Jackie Novak

Edneyville, NC

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

 

Bruce King

Davisburg, MI

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son-in-law of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Ron Wood

Washington, D.C.

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son of Betsy Wood, Brother of Lisa Wood Martin, Uncle of Chance, Brock, and Reid Martin

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/04

 

Gary Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Melissa Gouge

Washington, D.C.

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Cousin of Amy Corbin

Killed in a truck crash 8/18/97

 

Julie Branon Magnan

South Burlington, VT

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 01/31/02

Wife of David Magnan

Killed in a truck crash 01/31/02

 

Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, MN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89

 

Cindy Southern

Cleveland, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of James Whitaker, sister-in-law Anthony Hixon and aunt of Amber Hixon

Killed in a truck crash 9/18/09

 

Kim Telep

Harrisburg, PA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Bradley Telep

Killed in a truck crash 8/29/12

 

Christina Mahaney

Jackman, ME

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 7/19/2011

Mother of Liam Mahaney

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/2011

 

Sandra Lance

Chesterfield, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Kristen Belair

Killed in a truck crash 8/26/09

 

Alan Dana

Plattsburgh, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son of Janet Dana, Uncle of Caitlyn & Lauryn Dana, Brother-in-law of Laurie Dana

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/12

 

Lisa Shrum

Fayette, MO

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Daughter of Virginia Baker, Step-daughter of Randy Baker

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/06

 

Henry Steck

Homer, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

 

References:

[1] An Analysis of Truck Size and Weight: Phase I – Safety, Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium, November 2013; Memorandum from J. Matthews, Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute, Sep. 29, 2014; The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study: Volume III Scenario Analysis, Chapter VIII: Safety, FHWA-PL-00-029 (Volume III) (August 2000).

[2] DOT Transmittal letters to Congress, June 5, 2015.

[3] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Modal Shift Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table 22, p. 52 (June 2015).

[4] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Bridge Structure Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table ES-2, p. ES-7 (June 2015).

[5] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Pavement Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table ES-2, p. ES-8 (June 2015).

[6] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[7] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Modal Shift Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table 24, p. 54 (June 2015).

[8] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[9] Woodrooffe, J., De Pont, J., (2011, April 11) Comparative Performance Evaluation of Proposed 33 ft Double Trailers Combinations with Existing 28 ft Double Trailers, p. 19.

[10] Traffic Safety Facts 2013: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System, DOT HS 812 139, Table 9, p. 34, NHTSA (2015).

[11] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[12] Woodrooffe, J., De Pont, J., Comparative Performance Evaluation of Proposed 33 ft Double Trailers Combinations with Existing 28 ft Double Trailers, p. 20. (April 11, 2011)

[13] Comparative Evaluation of Rail and Truck Fuel Efficiency on Competitive Corridors, Federal Railroad Administration, Nov. 19, 2009.

Read this Statement from Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, on the 60 Minutes Report on our Crumbling Infrastructure

Last night, 60 Minutes aired a segment on America’s infrastructure, “Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure.”  Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, released a statement on this report. In this statement, Ms. Gillan stated that,

The data is clear and indisputable.  Bigger trucks mean bigger infrastructure damage, bigger safety threats and bigger economic costs to the public.

Read all of Jackie Gillan’s statement here.

An Oversized Truck Strike is the Probable Cause for the Washington State I-5 Bridge Collapse

Contact: Beth Weaver

301.814.4088,/beth_weaver@verizon.net

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Released ReportAN OVERSIZED TRUCK STRIKE IS THE PROBABLE CAUSE FOR THE WASHINGTON STATE I-5 BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Truck Safety Advocates Respond to Report – Existing Truck Safety Issues Would Be Exacerbated by Bigger and Heavier Trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 16, 2014)—On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that an oversized truck striking the I-5 bridge in Washington state was the probable cause of its collapse on May 23, 2013, in which three were injured, and fortunately none killed. The bridge collapse and the NTSB’s findings illustrate the dangers that arise when there is a lack of oversight on the permitting process of oversized trucks.

Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Truck Safety Coalition North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator, and Member of FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) after losing her father, James Mooney, in a truck crash said, “This highlights something the safety community has already known for years, the gaps and lack of oversight in our current system along with the vulnerability of our infrastructure creates a dangerous combination. We need to improve truck safety, not make it more dangerous. Now is not the time to be increasing truck size or weight.”

As a result of the damage to its truss structure, the bridge, constructed in 1955, buckled and subsequently collapsed into the Skagit River. In its findings, the NTSB cited the insufficient route planning by the trucking company and truck driver and inadequate evaluation of oversized permit requests as two of the reasons the collapse occurred. The NTSB recommended that the Washington State Department of Transportation revise its permit process for oversized trucks to include an evaluation of the route’s overhead clearances and lane widths with respect to the oversized truck’s load dimensions.

Tierney concluded, “Transportation budget shortfalls have resulted in a dire state of infrastructure disrepair, nearly 70,000 of our bridges are rated structurally deficient. We don’t have the money to repair our infrastructure damage at the current rate of wear let alone consider the increased wear produced by bigger and heavier trucks. In fact, increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 20 percent will increase bridge damage by 33 percent.”

In 2010, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimated that in order to address all cost-beneficial bridge needs, the investment backlog for bridges is $121 billion, which is 60 percent over the current spending levels for bridges. Moreover, the Highway Trust Fund is projected to go broke after this summer. As Congress attempts to find ways to keep highway repair funded, any increases in truck size and weight will increase the wear and tear on bridges and increase the cost of bridge maintenance.

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Read the Statement of the Obama Administration’s Policy Regarding Highway and Motor Carrier Safety

The Administration released a Statement of Administration to strongly oppose House passage of H.R. 4745, making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes. In particular, the Administration said this about the provisions in the bill that affects Highway and Motor Carrier Safety:

 The Administration objects to the provisions altering the permissible size and weight of trucks operating over Federal highways in the states of Mississippi, Wisconsin and Idaho.  Pursuant to the provisions of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the Department of Transportation is currently conducting a comprehensive truck size and weight limits study.  Any reconsideration of size and weight limits should be done on a comprehensive basis with full consideration of the infrastructure and safety impacts as informed by the MAP-21 study.  The Administration opposes provisions that serve to weaken highway safety by altering or revising the existing safety regulations for motor carrier operators.

Read the entire Statement here.

Watch a Broad Coalition Speak out against Increasing Truck Size and Weight Limits

The videos from the Truck Size and Weight press conference are now posted. Thank you to all the speakers for doing such a fantastic job. Please watch below:

U.S. Representative James McGovern (D-MA)

Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC), Board Member, Truck Safety Coalition, and Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee – Her father was killed in 1983 in a truck crash in North Carolina

Joan Claybrook,Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Former Administrator, NHTSA

Mark Burton, (Knoxville, TN) Director, Transportation Economics for the Center for Transportation Research, University of Tennessee

Bruce Gower (Clyde, OH), Chief of Police

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

 

Advisory: Labor, Law Enforcement, Health and Safety Groups, and Victims of Truck Crashes Join to Oppose Bigger and Heavier Trucks

Contact:  Beth Weaver 301.814.4088 or beth_weaver@verizon.net

UPDATE — MEDIA ADVISORY

BREAKING NEWS – Transportation Research Board (TRB) Peer Review Committee Issues Report Condemning Methods Used in U.S. DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study

Serious Concerns Raised by Safety Groups Validated – Report Exposes Significant Weaknesses which Will Render Study Results Inaccurate and Unreliable

WHAT:           NEWS CONFERENCE – Serious concerns raised by safety groups and others about potential bias and data shortcuts in the conduct of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study (Study) required by MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (Pub. L. 112-141), have been confirmed today by a newly-released report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Peer Review Committee.  The report, TRB First Report: Review of Desk Scans, found that there are significant shortcomings in the study methodology which means the Study will not be able to predict the impact of large truck size and weight policy changes on safety, the environment and enforcement with a high degree of accuracy.

The purpose of the Truck Size and Weight Study was to gather objective data on the impact of longer, heavier trucks on safety and the infrastructure.  The results of the Study will likely influence Congress about future policy on truck size and weight limits.  Today’s TRB Report reveals a short-circuiting of the Study process and critical flaws with the Study.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), a broad coalition of law enforcement, labor, victims and health and safety groups will join with U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) to oppose bigger, heavier trucks and discuss the on-going problems plaguing the U.S. DOT study. This comes at a critical time as Congress debates reauthorization of the multi-billion dollar bill that funds surface transportation programs.

Additionally, findings from a recently released report, An Analysis of Truck Size and Weight Issues, Phase I – Safety, will be publicly introduced for the first time. Conducted at Marshall University by the Multimodal Transportation and Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC), a University Transportation Center recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), this report found a higher fatal crash rate when double trailer trucks are involved in a crash as compared to single trailer trucks, and a significantly  higher fatal crash rate for trucks with six or more axles, presumably the heaviest of trucks, as compared to those with five axles.

WHEN:            Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 10 a.m.

WHERE:        Cannon House Office Building, Room 421

 WHO:             U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Jacqueline Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Emcee)

Georges Benjamin, MD Executive Director, American Public Health Association

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Bruce Gower (Clyde, OH) Chief of Police

Mark Burton (Knoxville, TN) Director, Transportation Economics for the Center for Transportation Research, University of Tennessee

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Former Administrator, NHTSA

Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC) Board Member, Truck Safety Coalition and Safe Highways, and Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee – Her father was killed in 1983 in a truck crash in North Carolina.

 

BACKGROUND:  Truck crash fatalities and injuries have increased three years in a row. The number of fatalities has increased by 16 percent since 2009 from 3,380 to 3,921. The annual number of injured has increased by 40 percent during this time, from 74,000 to 104,000. In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, 98 percent of the deaths occur to car occupants.

Polls show a majority of the public does not want bigger trucks, nor do they want to pay for them. Overweight trucks accelerate the destruction of roads and bridges. One third of America’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition and one fourth of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Increasing truck weights will make our roads more deadly and create an unfunded mandate of infrastructure repair and maintenance needs paid by taxpayers.

More information is available at www.trucksafety.org.

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Pennsylvania Volunteers Visit with US Senators and Congressman

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, our Pennsylvania volunteers, Kim Telep (Harrisburg, PA) and Dorothy Wert (Montrose, PA), visited the Pennsylvania offices of Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey and Congressman Lou Barletta. Kim and Dorothy lost their husbands in truck crashes — both of which were preventable. At the meetings, the two women shared stories of their loss and spoke about critical truck safety issues, including the dangers of increasing truck size and weight limits, the importance of entry-level driver training requirements, the implementation of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, and related enforcement.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with these offices in our efforts to improve truck safety.

Kim and Dorothy after meeting with Senator Toomey's office.
Kim and Dorothy after meeting with Senator Toomey’s office.

ADVISORY: PA WIDOWS TO LOBBY U.S. SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN TO PREVENT TRUCK CRASHES AND IMPROVE SAFETY

MEDIA ADVISORY

PENNSYLVANIA WIDOWS LOBBY U.S. SENATORS & CONGRESSMEN TO PREVENT TRUCK CRASHES & IMPROVE SAFETY

Congress Beginning Reauthorization of Surface Transportation Bill

WHAT: The widows of Bradley Telep and David Wert, Sr. will visit the PA offices of U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey and Congressmen Lou Barletta and Bill Shuster to discuss crucial truck safety issues including the dangers of increasing truck size and weight limits, the importance of entry-level driver training requirements, and implementation of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse Rule.

Congress is beginning the reauthorization process for the federal surface transportation bill with the threat of an increase in the federal truck size and weight limits for trucks. Between 2005-2011, there were 1,220 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in PA. In 2011, large trucks were involved in 9.1% of fatal crashes in the state.

Bigger, heavier trucks not only pose a danger to motorists, but also accelerate wear on our roads and bridges. Pennsylvania is already struggling to maintain and expand its deteriorating infrastructure. A 2010 study found that PA needs an additional $3.5 billion per year in order to fully meet the State’s transportation infrastructure needs.

WHO:

Kimberly Telep, Truck Safety Coalition Volunteer, Harrisburg, PA

Kimberly’s husband, Bradley Telep, died on August 29, 2012 after a tractor trailer swerved and hit him on the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver of the truck was under the influence of heroin at the time and sentenced to four years in prison.

Dorothy Wert, Truck Safety Coalition Volunteer, Montrose, PA

Dorothy’s husband, David Wert, Sr., was killed in a truck crash on May 23, 2011 in DuBois, PA, when an inexperienced truck driver left his broken-down truck parked in the middle of a dark highway with no lights on, warning signals or flares. David, a 35-year truck driver, was unable to stop his truck in time and crashed into the back of the unlit truck.

WHEN: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 4 – 6 p.m. Available for media interviews immediately following their meetings.

CONTACTS:

Kimberly Telep, (717) 433-1821, kimberlyatelep@gmail.com

Kaitlyn Wert, (570) 432-0030, dwert@stny.rr.com

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Safety Groups Respond to T & I Hearing Stacked with Industry

Click here to view our letter.

Duluth News Tribune Reader’s View – “Cravaack, Klobuchar wrong on truck weight restrictions”

Published October 06, 2012, 12:00 AM

Reader’s view: Cravaack, Klobuchar wrong on truck weight restrictions

Nearly 23 years ago, I barely survived a truck crash that left me permanently disfigured. As a result, I became an advocate for truck safety, which is why I was shocked to read in the Sept. 27 News Tribune, “Loggers protest weight limits on Minnesota interstates,” that U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar support special-interest truck-weight increases. I thought our members of Congress were sent to Washington to protect and represent their constituents not to push the agenda of one industry.

The most recent truck size and weight pilot programs allowing excessively heavy trucks in Maine and Vermont resulted in more deaths and infrastructure destruction and more resultant costs. Minnesota shouldn’t go down the same road.

“On Vermont’s non-interstate highways, where significant safety gains were expected with the shift of trucks to the interstates, the number of crashes increased by 24 percent,” Vermont’s pilot-program report stated. “(Even with the addition of a 6th axle), the pilot loading results in a 59 percent increase in damage due to Class 10 trucks. … A typical 99,000-(pound), (six)-axle pilot vehicle requires pavement expenditures of 34.5 cents per mile of travel on the interstate system and about 53.6 cents per mile of travel off the interstate system — about 63 (percent) more per vehicle mile and about 32 (percent) more per ton mile than a fully loaded (five)-axle vehicle.”

Increases in truck weights always have resulted in more trucks on the road. We need to come up with innovative solutions rather than just piling the pounds onto our trucks at the peril of innocent motorists and increased risk to truck drivers. Minnesotans cannot afford the loss of lives and injuries and the increased damage and costs of heavier trucks. I urge my fellow Minnesotans to contact Congressman Cravaack and Sen. Klobuchar to tell them big trucks are not right for Minnesota.

Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, Minn.

Public Opinion Does Not Support Bigger Trucks

FOR OVER 15 YEARS PUBLIC OPINION IS CLEAR —
“NO” TRUCK SIZE AND WEIGHT INCREASES
 
2011
  • 74% of Americans oppose the trucking industry’s efforts to have Congress change the current law and allow heavier trucks on the roads.
Source: Lake Research Partners Poll, April 2011
  • Nearly three quarters of registered voters oppose increasing the national cap on truck size from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds.
Source: Hart Research Associates, April 2011
 
2008
  • 66% of Americans oppose changing the current law and allowing trucks carrying heavier loads on U.S. highways. “Support for the measure is anemic (only 16% favor the efforts.) Opposition is deep and transcends gender, age, political identification, and region.”
  • Eight out of ten (82%) Americans feel trucks pulling double or triple trailers are more dangerous than those pulling just a single trailer.
Source: Lake Research Partners Poll, May 2008
 
2004
  • By 77% to 16%, the public opposes increasing truck weight limits.
  • 80% of Americans believe that trucks with two or more trailers are less safe than trucks with a single trailer.
Source: Lou Harris Poll, June 2004
1998
  • By 71% to 21%, a majority of the American people are willing to pay higher prices for goods in exchange for tougher truck safety standards.
Source: Lou Harris Poll, April 1998
 
1996
  • 88% of Americans oppose allowing bigger and heavier trucks on the highways.
  • 80% are fully convinced that “trucks pulling two or more trailers are less safe than trucks pulling only one trailer.”
Source: Lou Harris Poll, May 1996
 
The facts are clear—for over a decade, the public has consistently and convincingly opposed big trucks. Stand with your constituents and stand up for trucking safety by opposing any increase to truck size and weight or “state option” in the surface transportation bill.

Bigger trucks spell big trouble on Maryland’s roads

AAA Mid-Atlantic says Congress should resist lobbying efforts, protect state’s drivers and roads by saying no to huge new vehicles

June 19, 2011|By Ragina C. Averella

In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs this month, I was very clear about my reason for being there: AAA Mid-Atlantic is strongly opposed, on behalf of its members and all motorists, to any increase in the size and weight of tractor-trailer trucks. The trucks we see every day on I-95 and the Baltimore Beltway are plenty big already.

I am supported in this position by a December 2010 Maryland public opinion poll, commissioned by AAA Mid-Atlantic. The poll showed 85 percent of Maryland drivers opposing any increase to the size or weight of tractor-trailer trucks, with 70 percent of respondents stating they are “strongly opposed” to any such move. Yet, Congress is being heavily lobbied to do just that. A measure to increase the maximum weight of these giant trucks — currently 80,000 pounds — by an additional 17,000 pounds (that’s 81/2 tons) is being considered for inclusion in the upcoming national surface transportation funding bill. Lobbyists are also urging Congress to lift a freeze on triple-trailer trucks — vehicles that move across traffic lanes in a snakelike motion and can stretch longer than 110 feet.

In our more than 100 years of advocating for safety on the roads, AAA has always pushed hard for measures that save lives and increase the well-being of all motorists. That means we do not believe commerce trumps safety. The truck size and weight increase is being pushed by lobbyists for large corporations, trucking companies and their supporters in Congress as a way for trucking companies to operate more profitably. At what cost, we ask? Is a more profitable business worth endangering the lives of millions of motorists?

Despite significant improvement in truck crash rates, large trucks on the road today have a fatal crash involvement rate 40 percent higher than that of passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Increasing the weight or size of trucks will only make trucks more dangerous. In its 2000 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) pointed out that heavier trucks tend to have a higher center of gravity because the additional weight is typically added vertically. This higher center of gravity increases the risk of rollovers and creates concern about the ability of truck operators to maintain their brakes with heavier loads. This could drastically affect the stopping distance of these trucks. The Department of Transportation also found that the risks of long-doubles and triple-trailer trucks increased the likelihood of trailer sway, as well as the possibility of a higher overall fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.

In addition to motorist safety, there are also concerns about the impact heavier trucks would have on our roads and bridges, which are already severely stressed. As it is, there is not enough money to repair or rebuild our transportation infrastructure. Maryland, for example, has more than 1,322 highway bridges classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the Department of Transportation’s 2010 National Bridge Inventory. That’s an important part of the equation, because Congress is considering pushing our roads and bridges past their breaking point with these big-truck measures. We cannot, in good conscience, allow that to happen without a fight. At minimum, Congress should comprehensively study the impact of such a move before even considering passing such laws. Decisions on increasing truck weights by 81/2 tons or allowing huge triple trailer trucks will impact the safety of everyone.

I urge all Maryland motorists to make their voices heard on this issue. It is time to put a roadblock in front of the bigger-truck lobby — and public participation in the process is the best way to do that.

. Find out more about this issue at http://midatlantic.aaa.com/PGA/issuesactioncenter.

Rep. McGovern Receives the Promoting Highway Safety Through Legislation Award

September 21, 2011

Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA) honored US Rep. James McGovern, D-MA, with its Promoting Highway Safety Through Legislation award for his work as a champion of safe highways. Westborough attorney Ted Bassett, Jr. of Mirick O’Connell, LLP presented the award on Sept. 16 during APITLA’s National Interstate Trucking Summit in St. Louis.

According to a press release issued by Mirick O’Connell, APITLA is a national association of attorneys who have joined forces to help eliminate unsafe and illegal interstate trucking practices and reduce the number of serious trucking accidents throughout the United States.

“The recipient of the Promoting Highway Safety Through Legislation is an elected state or federal official who has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting interstate trucking highway safety through legislation. As chairman of APITLA’s legislative committee, Bassett selected this year’s recipient,” the statement read.

“Congressman McGovern has led the charge against the trucking industry’s push to allow heavier and longer trucks onto our highways,” Bassett said. “The Congressman shares our concerns that increasing size and weight limits will lead to more accidents, since bigger trucks are harder to stop. APITLA applauds Rep. McGovern’s efforts to make America’s highways safer.”

In May, McGovern co-sponsored the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA), which will extend truck size and weight limits already in place on Interstate highways to the entire National Highway System. Specifically, SHIPA will extend truck weight limits to 80,000 pounds, cap the length of tractor-trailer trucks at 53 feet and freeze the operation of long double and triple trailer trucks on the National Highway System. SHIPA will not take any truck off the road that is currently operating.

“I am honored to receive this award, which recognizes the importance of making our highways a safer place for all of us — and the next generation,” McGovern said. “We do not need bigger trucks on our highways, we need safer ones. Longer and heavier trucks require more stopping distance, have larger blind spots and increase the risks of rollover and of trailers swaying into adjacent lanes. I look forward to working with APITLA members on many other highway safety initiatives in the years to come.”

http://westborough.patch.com/articles/mcgovern-recognized-with-truck-safety-award

Washington state cannot afford bigger trucks on our stressed highways

Tommie Pillow
As Washington State Patrol troopers, my colleagues and I see first-hand the dangers and damage large trucks can cause on our state’ s roads.

Yet powerful corporations and large trucking companies are lobbying Congress to let tractor-trailer trucks grow even bigger — by allowing existing trucks to be eight tons heavier and by allowing double and triple-trailer trucks across the country.

This is a bad policy that would only benefit a few big companies, while coming with a heavy price tag that includes new highway dangers to average motorists and further damage to our roads and bridges.

In our state in 2005, there were 68 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks. Nationally, large trucks are involved in fatal accidents 40 percent more than the rate for passenger cars.

Here’ s the reality: Trucks are already dangerous. These new Washington, D.C., proposals would make them even more so.

The reasons are easy to understand: Bigger trucks mean more weight and energy in crashes; crashes become severe accidents; and severe accidents can become fatalities. Further, bigger trucks are more likely to roll over, because they will have a higher center of gravity, greatly increasing the risk of roll-overs on our roads.

Then there are issues with safety maintenance.

Larger trucks will take longer to stop. Increasing truck weight will lead to increased brake maintenance problems. In short, a bigger truck is more likely to wear out its important safety equipment sooner, including the brakes, suspension and tires. The equation is simple: Greater equipment wear means a greater risk of accidents.

The safety of motorists on Washington’ s roads and highways is obviously my primary concern and, respectfully, should be top of mind for our congressional representatives as they consider these bigger truck proposals.

‘ Structurally deficient’

Of course, apart from the safety considerations, we need to keep in mind the potential damage to the infrastructure we all share. Larger trucks will place a greater strain upon our already damaged bridges.

About 400 of our state’ s bridges are classified as “ structurally deficient” — meaning they need to be replaced or receive significant repairs. Almost three million vehicles travel over those bridges on a daily basis.

For an example of how a weakened part of our transportation infrastructure can have great impact, the Seattle — or Alaskan Way — viaduct is a prominent piece of our eroded transportation infrastructure that has to be inspected every three months and will cost us more than $3 billion to replace by the time the project is completed in 2016.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, heavy trucks today only pay for 80 percent of the damage they cause. Allowing them to get heavier and longer means they would only pay half of their costs.

I’ ve served this community for more than 26 years. I know Washington roads. And I know that bigger trucks are a dangerous and expensive proposition.

We are fortunate to have Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, serving as members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

That committee will have a lot to say about whether bigger trucks will be allowed on our roads. I urge Congress to weigh this issue carefully before making a decision that could impact everyone on the road.

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Tommie Pillow is president of the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association. He can be reached at 360-704-7530 or via email at tompillow@wspta.org.

Published May 05, 2011

30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight

In ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with truckers, FDOT has dull claws; As many as 30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight
By: Fred Hiers / Star-Banner (Ocala, Florida); Monday, October 22, 2007

OCALA – Carlos Reinoso sat with the door of his dump truck slung open and his legs dangling over the side. He couldn’t have looked more bored.

Continue reading “30 percent of tractor-trailers, dump trucks overweight”