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A coalition of labor, law enforcement, local government, AAA, safety groups, and families of truck crash victims joined U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) on February 1 at a press conference to strongly oppose a House transportation bill that would undo decades of truck safety laws including overturning the 1991 federal ban on triple tractor trailers. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to vote on the measure on February 2.
“Three quarters of Americans say they oppose bigger and heavier trucks on our highways and polls conducted over the past 15 years show similar results,” said Joan Claybrook, Chair Emeritus, Public Citizen and Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. “Unfortunately, Congressional leaders are tone deaf to public concerns when special trucking interests come around.
They ignore the truth that a state option will produce more profits for the trucking industry and more obituaries for innocent families and truck drivers. The American public will pay with their lives and their wallets for the trucking industry follies.”
In 2010, overall traffic fatalities declined, but truck crash fatalities increased by nearly 9 percent to 3,675. While large trucks make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles, they represent 11 percent of annual motor vehicle crashes. In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, 97 percent of the deaths occur to the car occupants.
“We ask our leaders in Congress to step up and take some action to spare other families from losing a loved one in a preventable crash,” said Jane Mathis, from St. Augustine, FL, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in a truck crash as they drove home from their honeymoon. “It is unacceptable and unconscionable that the House Committee is actually proposing a bill that will add to the death and injury toll by putting even heavier, longer and deadlier trucks on our roads.”
Overweight trucks accelerate the destruction of roads and bridges. According to government studies, one third of America’s roads and bridges are in poor or mediocre condition and more than one fourth of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
Increasing truck weights and expanding the reach of large triple trailer trucks will only make America’s roads more deadly and create an unfunded mandate of infrastructure repair and maintenance needs paid by taxpayers. The American public will pay with their lives and their wallets if Congress allows bigger, overweight trucks on roads and highways.
“The National Troopers Coalition and all law enforcement are united in opposition to bigger trucks,” said Trooper Tom Brackin, Vice President, Delaware State Troopers Association. “We oppose the provisions in the House transportation bill that would allow longer trucks, triple trailer trucks and heavier trucks.
For my fellow law enforcement officers and me, it’s a matter of saving lives. In addition to the many fatalities and injuries suffered by the public in truck crashes we know that the number one cause of death and injury to troopers and other police officers is traffic accidents, many involving big trucks.”
Truck size and weight provisions in the House bill are being characterized as modest “states’ rights” changes that merely give states the option to allow longer or heavier trucks. In truth, these provisions amount to radical changes in the law and a dangerous give-away to the trucking industry.
The radical House legislation would:
“Every time Congress has allowed bigger, heavier trucks, the number of trucks on our highways has increased. The recent pilot program that allowed overweight trucks in Maine and Vermont resulted in more trucks and more deaths and injuries. The trucking industry was dead wrong about the pilot program in these two states.
I urge Congress to stop pandering to the trucking industry’s misstatements, misleading claims, and misguided notion that their profits should trump public safety,” said Jennifer Tierney, from Kernersville, NC, whose father was killed when he crashed into a truck blocking the roadway.
Ed Slattery, from Cockeysville, MD, whose wife was killed and two sons critically injured in a triple trailer truck crash said, “What happened to my family is clear and compelling evidence of why triple trailer trucks should not be permitted on more roads. I urge Congress to put the safety of our families first and not cave to the political pressures of the trucking industry.”