The fight for safety on our highways never ends. Always and forever we have to keep vigilant. And we at the Truck Safety Coalition do that because our lives have been changed – always and forever.
Most of you know that I volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition, working with other victims to make change in laws surrounding commercial trucks and the impact they have on all our lives. One of the things we work on is fighting the trucking industry’s constant attempts to get bigger and heavier trucks on our roads.
Their latest attempt is an amendment that has been introduced to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, Senate Bill # 1197) which is under consideration by the Senate right now. FedEx, UPS and others are trying to get an extension to the current size of double-trailers which are currently 28 feet long. The industry wants to lengthen each to 33 feet; on a double trailer that means the truck will be 10 feet longer.
What’s an additional 10 feet you say? Well, there are several problems. Here’s information from the Truck Safety Coalition intended to provide you reasons why longer trucks are not a good idea:
- Truck crash deaths increased last year — AGAIN. Just released 2012 fatality figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show an increase in large truck fatalities for the third year in a row, including a 9 percent increase in deaths of large truck occupants. Last year, 3,921 people were killed on our roads in large truck crashes.
- 98% of fatalities in two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger vehicle are the occupants of the passenger vehicle.
- Truck crashes impose enormous economic costs on society. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $83 billion.
- Don’t believe it — Bigger trucks never result in fewer trucks despite industry claims. Over three decades of research and experience show that allowing bigger, heavier trucks will not result in fewer trucks. Increases in truck size and weight limits over more than 35 years have never, ever resulted in fewer large trucks on our roads.
- Public opinion polls are clear and consistent — the public strongly opposes bigger trucks. The American public overwhelmingly opposes relentless special interest efforts to increase truck sizes. This new NHTSA data only validates the public’s fears about the dangers to motorists from oversized trucks.
- 39 states will be forced to allow 33 foot trailers and fund expensive infrastructure improvements. Legislation permitting 33 foot trailers will preempt the existing truck length limits in 39 states. States will be forced to invest in expensive infrastructure improvements to accommodate these oversized rigs on interstates and upgrade freeway on-ramps and off-ramps.
- Congress directed the U.S. DOT to study bigger trucks and their impacts on safety and infrastructure. MAP-21, passed with strong bi-partisan support, directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a comprehensive two-year truck size and weight study to provide data on crash frequency and the impact of large trucks on safety and infrastructure. No truck size increases should be considered while the Congressionally mandated study is underway.
- Industry funded research making safety claims is neither objective nor unbiased. There have been no independent, peer-reviewed research and studies conducted on the operational and safety issues associated with the use of 33 foot trailers, only industry financed research. The motoring public should not be used as human guinea pigs to conduct this research.
- Serious safety problems on state and local roads with longer trucks. As combination trucks grow longer and invade more lower-class roads, the danger of severe crashes rapidly increases because these roads often have narrow lanes, winding alignments, limited sight distances, and inadequate or no shoulders, and often have trees and telephone poles at the edge line.
- Congress needs to improve truck safety rather than increase truck length. More than one in every five trucks that is inspected is placed out-of-service for vehicle deficiencies that prevent it from continuing to operate.
For More Information, contact the Truck Safety Coalition, 703-294-6404
So….we need your help again. If you could contact your state’s Senators and give them a heads up that there is an amendment introduced in the NDAA that you oppose we’d appreciate it. All you need to do is go to this website to find out who your senators are. Call their office and ask to speak to the Transportation Legislative Aide or, if that person is not available, ask to speak to the Defense Legislative Aide. Tell them you oppose the amendment that would allow longer trucks. Pick any of the points above that you feel comfortable with.
It will take you a minute or two total. Leave a voice mail if you have to. Help us make a difference. Help us maintain the current size and weights, keep larger trucks from our roads.
You never know whose life you’re saving. But you can guarantee you’re saving someone.