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Truck Safety Advocates Oppose Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC (September 11, 2015) – U.S. Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI) plans to introduce a bill to increase the federal weight limit for large trucks from 80,000-lbs to 91,000-lbs. that is in direct opposition to the results of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study recently conducted for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT study released earlier this year concluded that there should be no increase to truck size and weight due to a lack of data.

The Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act, sponsored by Congressman Ribble, will increase the truck weight limit on Interstate Highways from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, which will violate the 1975 Bridge Formula while ignoring infrastructure needs and a climbing highway death toll. Furthermore, the bill relies upon industry-funded junk science to justify the weight increase.

Dawn King, President of the Truck Safety Coalition, has been advocating for truck safety since her father, Bill Badger, was killed by a tired trucker who slammed his truck into her dad’s car. “Now is not the time to increase the weight limit of trucks, especially in Representative Ribble’s home state of Wisconsin. He should be focusing on the truth, like the fact that between 2009 and 2013, total fatalities in all crashes in Wisconsin have decreased by 3.2 percent, while large truck crash fatalities have increased by 50.9 percent; or that during this time 330 Wisconsinites were killed in large truck crashes. Instead, he is more concerned with much different figures – the profits of trucking companies. It is unfortunate that his bill prioritizes profits above the safety of the people he represents.”

The Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act will result in further damage to America’s infrastructure and will jeopardize the safety of the American public. Adding an extra axle to a 91,000-pound truck will not mitigate the increased wear and tear these heavier trucks will cause to America’s crumbling bridges. For example, increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 10 percent increases bridge damage by 33 percent. The claims that this weight increase will result in fewer trucks that are just as safe as current 80,000-pound trucks are false. Increases in truck size and weight over more than 35 years have never resulted in fewer trucks on American roads. Additionally, The DOT has found that six-axle configurations have higher crash rates than five-axle trucks. The DOT’s study determined that 91,000 pound trucks had a 47 percent higher crash rate than the standard 80,000 pound trucks in Washington State, which was the only state with available data on the proposed, heavier truck configuration.

“As a law enforcement professional, I have seen too many times when a truck and car collide. I have yet to see the car win,” said Stoughton Police Chief Greg Leck, who is also the Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police. “If we make trucks heavier, I do not see this situation improving. At a time when cars are becoming smaller, we do not need bigger trucks. Our job is to protect those who travel our roads and our goal is to have motorists arrive at their destinations safely. I do not believe heavier or longer trucks ultimately help us reach our goal.”