For Immediate Release: November 5, 2015
Contact: Beth Weaver | 301.814.4088 | firstname.lastname@example.org
House Passes DRIVE Act (H.R. 22)
Truck Weight Increase Amendment is Defeated
More Anti-Safety Provisions Must Be Removed as Bill Heads to Conference
Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2015) – Today the House of Representatives passed its multi-year surface transportation reauthorization legislation, H.R. 22. While this bill still contains anti-safety provisions, a nation-wide truck weight increase is not one of them. A large and diverse coalition of truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, safety advocates, labor, truckers, and trucking companies joined together to urge Congress to reject heavier trucks. They listened. By a bipartisan vote of 236 against and 187 in favor of the measure, the amendment failed – a resounding rejection of the misinformation and specious arguments that heavier trucks will result in fewer and safer trucks.
It is unfortunate, however, that the House’s version of the Highway Bill still contains dangerous safety rollbacks and omits any safety advances, some of which were offered as amendments. We urge conferees to remove these anti-safety amendments that were approved in the House as well as dangerous provisions in the base bill:
Opposed Amendments Agreed to by House by Voice Vote:
Farenthold #76: Grandfathers heavy trucks on future I-69 – agreed to by voice vote.
Ribble #23: Increases air-mile radius from 50 to 75 under Hours of Service – agreed to by voice vote.
Duffy #9, Crawford #60, Lipinski #106, Nolan #3: Various weight exemptions – offered as en bloc amendment.
Crawford #93: Allows towing of two empty trailers together – offered as en bloc amendment.
Neugebauer #67: No hazmat endorsement for farm trucks transporting fuel – offered as en bloc amendment.
All of these exemptions weaken safety and undermine law enforcement efforts.
Opposed Provisions in House Highway Bill:
Sec. 5404: Allowing Teen Truckers
- There is no data that analyzes whether it is safe to allow teenagers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate traffic. In fact, research has demonstrated that truck drivers younger than age 21 have higher crash rates than drivers who are 21 years of age and older.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) previously declined to lower the minimum age for an unrestricted CDL to 18 as part of a pilot program because the agency could not conclude that the “safety performance of these younger drivers is sufficiently close to that of older drivers of CMVs[.]” The public overwhelmingly opposed the idea with 96 percent of individuals who responded opposing the proposal along with 88 percent of the truck drivers and 86 percent of the motor carriers who responded.
Secs. 5221, 5223, 5224: Changing Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Data
- Hiding critical safety information in the FMCSA’s CSA program will deprive consumers from learning about the comparative safety of motor carriers and bus companies when hiring a motor carrier company to transport goods or people.
- Letting the public know the government safety scores promotes public accountability and improves safety. CSA is working as intended and includes a process so that it can continue to be fine-tuned and improved.
Sec. 5501: Delaying Rulemaking on Minimum Financial Responsibility
- Minimum insurance levels have not been increased in more than 35 years.
- During this time the cost of medical care has increased significantly and the current minimum requirement of $750,000 is inadequate to cover the cost of one fatality or serious injury, let alone crashes in which there are multiple victims.
Sec. 5224: Limiting Shipper and Broker Liability
- Shields brokers and shippers from responsibility based on low standards related to hiring decisions. Reducing standards effectively removes safety from the carrier selection process.
We are thankful for the efforts and hard work of our network of volunteer truck safety advocates, who consist of truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims. Their tireless dedication to improving truck safety is admirable, and their voices were definitely heard on Capitol Hill this past month as we had our largest Sorrow to Strength Conference to date. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Representatives Lois Frankel (FL), John Lewis (GA), and Hank Johnson (GA). Had your commonsense amendments passed the House, motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and truck drivers would be much safer.
Trucking has become increasingly less safe, as seen by the 17% increase in truck crash fatalities and 28% increase in truck crash injuries between 2009 and 2013. Congress must do more to reverse these trends, not exacerbate them. We ask the conferees to remove the provisions that will endanger public safety, and, instead, promote policies that will make safety a number one priority.