Thanksgiving Travels Should Remind DRIVE Act (H.R. 22) Conferees to Promote Safety
November 24, 2015
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year with millions of people driving to visit friends and family. For many of us, however, we are one or several guests short. The absence of a friend or a family member serves as a grave reminder of the sudden, unnecessary loss that we experienced upon losing a loved one in a large truck crash. Busy travel weekends like this remind us of the dire need to reform our current system and advance safety on our nation’s roads and bridges. The best way to ensure the safety of the motoring public in the long term is for Congress to remove the anti-safety provisions in the multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.
A provision permitting interstate teen truck drivers is a misguided measure that will allow higher-risk drivers to get behind the wheel of an 80,000-lbs. truck. Yet, Congress is moving forward on this despite the public’s firm opposition to lowering interstate truck driving age from 21 to 18. A recently release public opinion poll showed that 77 percent of the public is opposed to this proposal. Congress should listen to the public, look at the safety statistics on teen drivers, and act accordingly.
Furthermore, the bill is stuffed like a turkey with other industry handouts such as providing exemptions to the federal weight limit and hours of service (HOS) requirements for certain industries. If passed, families will be forced to maneuver around heavier trucks and drive next to truckers who could be working for more than 80 hours per week. Legislation to increase truck weight limits, or loosen HOS requirements, industry-by-industry is merely a back door attempt by trucking interests to come back to Congress in a few years and push for increases across the board.
It is upsetting that some Members of Congress are so willing to accept dangerous policy proposals without studying them first, like mandating Double 33 tractor trailers and allowing teen interstate truckers. It is even more upsetting, however, that these same lawmakers erect roadblocks to impede studies on pro-safety policies, like increasing the minimum levels of insurance or requiring forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) braking systems on all large trucks. Congress should be utilizing the rulemaking process to ensure they have the best information to make a data-driven decision on an issue, not to block measures that do not align with special interest requests.
This holiday season, as families eagerly await for the arrival of their loved ones, we urge you to remedy the safety setbacks in the DRIVE Act before another family has an empty chair at their Thanksgiving table this year. As survivors and families who lost loved ones in large truck crashes, we would be thankful for a safe holiday weekend and for a transportation bill that actually advances safety for the next six years.