U.S. DOT Issues Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study Technical Reports: Profound Data Limitations Necessitate No Changes to Current Laws

As Deaths and Injuries from Truck Crashes Have Been Increasing Over the Last 5 Years, Groups Urge Congress to Take Heed to DOT’s Recommendation and
Stop Attacks on Current Truck Safety Laws

June 5, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Truck crash victims, public health, consumer and safety groups, labor, law enforcement, rail suppliers and state transportation officials commend U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Under Secretary Peter Rogoff and their team for publicly releasing the Technical Reports of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (Study) and concluding that “current data limitations are so profound that no changes in the relevant laws and regulations should be considered until these data limitations are overcome.” This Study was required in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act (Pub. Law 112-141). The groups also laud Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for their leadership in making certain this Study was conducted in an open, transparent and public process with comprehensive consideration of the wide-ranging aspects of national transportation policy.

“Today’s announcement by Secretary Foxx that no changes should be made to truck size and weight policies is sound, sensible and will ensure safety. This is another critical reason why the House and Senate should reject any truck industry proposals to change truck size and weight limits. Right now the House is poised to vote on H.R. 2577, the annual spending bill for the U.S. Department of Transportation, which contains numerous anti-truck safety riders. None of these measures has been subject to any congressional hearing, government review or public input, yet all of these measures are certain to result in more truck crashes, deaths and injuries. For example, the H.R. 2577 will overturn state laws and force families across the country to share the road with bigger, longer, heavier and more dangerous trucks pulling double 33 ft. trailers,” stated Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs, Consumer Federation of America, remarked, “The American public has loudly and repeatedly said ‘No’ to bigger, heavier and longer trucks in countless public opinion polls. Now, the House and Senate should stand up to the outrageous demands of the trucking industry and say ‘No’ as well”.

“The safety of the motoring public is my top priority as Transportation Commissioner. The policy rider attached to the Transportation Appropriations Bill regarding increasing the length of double truck trailers and extending the maximum work hours of truck drivers to 82 hours per week will do nothing but result in more crashes and traffic fatalities,” remarked Dick Hall, Mississippi Transportation Commission Chairman.

“USDOT has spent nearly three years on this study and they have found the safety data to be seriously limited,” said Bruce Gower, Chief of Police for Clyde, OH. “There are warning signs in the report about the added dangers of bigger trucks that we would be foolish to ignore. I don’t want to experiment with bigger trucks on our roads. Allowing bigger trucks on our roads would be turning motorists into guinea pigs.”

“RSI is pleased to see that US DOT has released its technical reports on the long awaited Truck Size and Weight study. While we are still reviewing the report(s), we hope that the current data limitations referenced by DOT is taken seriously by Congress and that our nation’s safety and infrastructure are not further compromised by legislation which provides for heavier or longer trucks,” stated Tom Simpson, President, Railway Supply Institute (RSI), Inc.

“Clearly the Technical Reports show that raising truck size and weights will divert freight traffic from our nation’s railroads and onto our already overburdened highways and would be terrible public policy,” said John Risch, SMART Transportation National Legislative Director.

“Congressional backroom deals that result in policy changes which will increase truck crash deaths and injuries should be based on scientific data and objective research and not generous campaign contributions from powerful corporate interests. Congress should not buy a pig in a poke and impose heavier trucks on the American people with no evidence they are as safe as trucks today. The importance of basing any changes to national transportation policy on a fair, impartial and objective Study cannot be emphasized enough. Assembling the data to evaluate larger trucks is a massive task and should not be slapped together because of industry pressure. I commend the Department of Transportation for their measured hand when reviewing the information and deciding the data is lacking,” responded Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.

“As we have long warned, it would be dangerous and irresponsible to increase truck size and weight without the proper data on the consequences of such a move. Now the Department of Transportation has released the technical reports from its long-awaited Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight study, it has validated what we have been saying all along. There is insufficient information to make such a seismic change, and when complete and accurate data is gathered, we are confident it will show that truck size and weight should not be increased,” said Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers.

“The technical reports of the Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study have confirmed our concerns with the study. It is encouraging to know that the DOT did not cave in to industry pressure and are recognizing that the safety of the American public should not be put in jeopardy based on incomplete data. When the DOT conducts further research and has more data on truck size and weight, I know they will see what everyone in the safety community has long been saying, longer and heavier trucks will result in more crashes, more deaths, and more injuries,” said Jennifer Tierney, Board Member of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and member of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.

Truck crashes are a serious public safety threat. Every year on average, over 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured in crashes involving large trucks. Commercial motor vehicle crashes cost our nation $99 billion annually. 96% of the fatalities are occupants of the passenger vehicle in fatal two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger motor vehicle. There has been a 17% increase in fatalities and 28% increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes over the last four years.

Read the DOT Technical Reports and Q&A here: http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/sw/map21tswstudy/technical_rpts/index.htm


For Immediate Release: Contact: Beth Weaver | (301) 814-4088 | beth_weaver@verizon.net