Bigger-Truck Proponents Propose Legislation to Increase Truck Size and Weight
In two historic votes on Capitol Hill, Congress strongly rejected both heavier trucks (Nov. 3, 2015) and longer double-trailer trucks (Nov. 10 and 18, 2015).
Two pieces of bigger-truck legislation were proposed in Congress in 2015: one in the U.S. House of Representatives called for a truck weight increase from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds, and another in the U.S. Senate called for a length increase for double-trailer trucks to 91 feet in length.
In September of 2015, Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) introduced legislation called the “SAFE Trucking Act” (H.R. 3488), that would have allowed states to permit 91,000-pound, six-axle trucks. While this proposal was framed by proponents as “a compromise,” it was far from that. This bill was strongly opposed by a broad coalition of law enforcement and safety groups, local government representatives, railroads, truck drivers and even a significant segment of the trucking industry.
Just months earlier, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) had recommended against any increase in truck weight and found major negative impacts from 91,000-pound trucks, including:
- 47 percent higher crash rates in limited state testing compared to 80,000-pound trucks
- Higher out-of-service brake violation rates compared to 80,000-pound trucks
- More than $1 billion in additional bridge costs
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) was one of the key leaders to speak out against 91,000-pound trucks, citing his background as a former mayor and experience in road and bridge construction. See him talk on the House floor in the video below.
On Nov. 3, 2015, the amendment was defeated on a bipartisan vote, 236 to 187. Click on the following link to see how your Member of Congress voted: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll588.xml
Also in 2015, longer-truck proponents were able to insert language into the Senate appropriations bill that would have mandated states to allow longer double-trailer trucks 91 feet in length, sometimes called “Double 33s.” This truck configuration was also opposed by a broad coalition of law enforcement and safety groups, local government representatives, railroads, truck drivers and even a significant segment of the trucking industry.
USDOT recommended against truck length increases and, similar to the heavier-truck proposal, had found significant problems with longer double-trailer trucks, including:
- 22 feet longer stopping distances compared to today’s twin-trailer trucks
- Higher overall out-of-service violation rates compared to single-trailer trucks
- Up to $2.9 billion in additional infrastructure costs
U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) stood up to longer-truck proponents and made clear to their colleagues that their opposition to Double 33s was in the best interest of motorists and taxpayers. See Sen. Roger Wicker talk on the Senate floor in the video below.
On Nov. 10, 2015, Double 33s were defeated on a bipartisan vote, 56 to 31. On Nov. 18, 2015, Double 33s were defeated on a voice vote. Click on the following link to see how your Member of Congress voted: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=114&session=1&vote=00304
These votes were victories for highway safety and infrastructure preservation. Facing intense efforts from bigger-truck proponents, members of Congress chose to side with the vast majority of their constituents. However, we must remind new and experienced members of Congress to reject longer and heavier trucks—please contact your U.S. Senators and House Representative today and ask them to oppose bigger trucks on our nation’s highways.