Last week I let you know about an amendment attached to an important bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee that would make our roads more dangerous. Senator Shelby from Alabama offered the amendment replacing 28 foot double truck trailers with 33 foot double trailers. The 33s would be legal across the country, even in states that have shorter limits on the length of truck trailers.
If you followed the fight on the Hill or comments attached to that post you’ll know that the Shelby amendment passed by one vote. So 33 foot trailers are now in the bill that will be considered by the full Senate when everyone gets back to Washington after the 4th of July break.
This was a big disappointment for our group who are working hard to make our roads safer. We believe that 33 double trailers are not as safe as 28 foot double trailers which are less safe than single trailers. I’ll be honest. We took a couple days to feel discouraged; but this week we’re back to work.
Now that our Senators are home in their districts for a few days we are visiting their local offices, talking to their staff about what happened in the Senate Appropriations Committee. We’re talking about the dangers of 33 foot double trailers and passing out statistics, studies, and personal stories. We’re asking the Members to please vote for any amendment presented that would remove the 33 foot double trailers from the bill, and if that doesn’t happen to vote NO on the entire bill.
Really. Vote NO on the bill in it’s entirety.
Voting no on an important bill that is necessary to move our country forward is counter intuitive for us and the Senators alike. But aside from the trucking issues within this bill there are other controversies as well. It’s possible the bill will not move forward. It’s possible it will move forward but not in the present form. It’s possible we will win this battle because of other problems, other fights, that we aren’t even aware of.
We don’t know.
Yesterday husband and I drove an hour to meet with the regional managers of our two Senators . I’m always nervous when preparing for a meeting with our Congressional members. I don’t know why. I guess because we grew up looking up to these people and they still seem intimidating. And I suppose I’m also nervous because I’m asking such important things of them; things with such huge consequences. Of course I shouldn’t feel nervous, I’ve never been treated with anything but interested respect.
That’s a lesson in itself.
On our way down to the big city I saw a State Trooper SUV from the commercial truck inspection team that had pulled over a truck. That always makes me smile, because I’m glad inspectors are out on the road. I know that one in five trucks pulled over for inspection are taken out of service because the vehicle is too dangerous to be on the road. I took the sighting as a sign that everything would be OK at our meetings. And as we got close to the city I saw a big orange truck, my sign for dad saying hi, and I knew for sure things would go well.
And they did.
I had dad’s picture in my folder, looking up at me, reminding me why we were there. And because we weren’t in crazy busy DC we got a lot of face time with the regional managers. Both asked good questions, engaged with us, told stories of their own and seemed genuinely empathetic. They will pass our opposition to the 33 foot double trailers in the Appropriations Bill on to their Senators.
We did the best we could to convince them that safety has to come before profits, that longer trucks are less safe. That everyone is in danger, including the drivers of the trucks. We listened, too, to their concerns about the bill, about truck safety, about commerce. The only way to a solution is to understand the other side.
Whatever happens now I can say we did the very best we could.
To those of you in the States, have a wonderful 4th of July holiday weekend with family and friends. Stay safe if you’re on the water, if you’re watching fireworks and when you’re on our roads.
We want you all back safe and sound come Monday morning.