Insights on Potential Riders on Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act & Their Impact on Truck Safety

My family knows all too well, the great loss which can come from a truck crash. We are doing everything in our power to keep your family from experiencing such life-changing tragedy.

For those of you who have the ability to impact the upcoming HR 3763, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Actplease consider these insights from the Truck Safety Coalition on potential riders or amendments and their likely impact on safety for travelers on the roads of our country:

ACTION NEEDED TO ENHANCE SAFETY TITLE IN HOUSE TRANSPORTATION BILL
October 28, 2015
 
BACKGROUND:

The surface transportation reauthorization legislation currently being considered by Congress will set transportation policy for the next six years.  During that time, approximately 24,000 people will be killed in truck crashes and 600,000 more will be injured.  This legislation is an opportunity to reverse the upward trend of the truck crash death and injury toll.  If the safety title in the bill is not enhanced when the House and Senate meet in conference on the legislation, the American public will pay with their lives and their wallets.

On Thursday, October 22, The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015. While a large number of amendments were offered, the majority of those amendments were withdrawn due to a bipartisan agreement between the Committee leadership to pass a bill through the Committee. The bill will now move to the House floor for a vote by the full House of Representatives. We expect that many of the same amendments that were withdrawn could be offered when the full House takes up the legislation.

It is expected that H.R. 3763 will be on the House floor next Tuesday and Wednesday, November 3-4.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
Please take the time to contact your Representative either by phone or email, and urge him/her to oppose anti-truck safety provisions and amendments.
To Contact Your Representative Click Here:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
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TALKING POINTS:
Opposed Provisions in H.R. 3763:
Allowing Teen Truckers (Sec. 5404)                        
  • There is no data that analyzes whether it is safe to allow teenagers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate traffic.  In fact, research has demonstrated that truck drivers younger than age 21 have higher crash rates than drivers who are 21 years of age and older.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) previously declined to lower the minimum age for an unrestricted CDL to 18 as part of a pilot program because the agency could not conclude that the “safety performance of these younger drivers is sufficiently close to that of older drivers of CMVs[.]” The public overwhelmingly opposed the idea with 96 percent of individuals who responded opposing the proposal along with 88 percent of the truck drivers and 86 percent of the motor carriers who responded.
Changing Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Data (Secs. 5221, 5223, 5224)
  • Hiding critical safety information in the FMCSA’s CSA program will deprive consumers from learning about the comparative safety of motor carriers and bus companies when hiring a motor carrier company to transport goods or people.
  • Letting the public know the government safety scores promotes public accountability and improves safety. CSA is working as intended and includes a process so that it can continue to be fine-tuned and improved.
Delaying Rulemaking on Minimum Financial Responsibility (Sec. 5501)
  • Minimum insurance levels have not been increased once in over 35 years.
  • During this time medical care costs have increased significantly and the current minimum requirement of $750,000 is inadequate to cover the cost of one fatality or serious injury, let alone crashes in which there are multiple victims.
Limiting Shipper and Broker Liability (Sec. 5224)
  • Shields brokers and shippers from responsibility based on low standards related to hiring decisions. Reducing standards effectively removes safety from the carrier selection process.
Expected Amendments to Oppose to H.R.3763:
  • The Safe, Flexible and Efficient Trucking Act (H.R. 3488) increases the current federal 80,000 lbs. limit to 91,000 lbs. This bill, which is expected to be offered as an amendment by Rep. Reid Ribble (WI), contains a provision that would violate the federal bridge formula. Additionally, the U.S. DOT determined that introducing a 91,000 lb. weight limit would result in $1.1 billion immediate one-time bridge strengthening or replacement costs for non-interstate bridges on the National Highway System (NHS) as well as create bridge posting issues for nearly 5,000 bridges on the Interstate and NHS.
  • Mandate increasing the size of double tractor trailers from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet per trailer, resulting in trucks that are at least 84 feet long. Double 33s will be more dangerous to motorists and truck drivers, and more destructive to our nation’s already compromised roadways and bridges. This length increase will overturn the laws in a majority of states that currently prohibit Double 33s.
  • The recent U.S. Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (DOT Study) concluded there is a “profound” lack of data from which to quantify the safety impact of larger or heavier trucks and consequently recommends that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations be considered until data limitations are overcome.
    • By overwhelming margins in numerous public opinion polls over the last 20 years, the American public consistently and convincingly rejects sharing the road with bigger, heavier and longer trucks. The most recent poll in January 2015 by Harper Polling revealed that 76 percent of respondents oppose longer and heavier trucks on the highways and 79 percent are very or somewhat convinced that heavier and longer trucks will lead to more braking problems and longer stopping distances, causing an increase in the number of crashes involving trucks.
  • Special interest truck size and weight exemptions are essentially “earmarks” for states and “unfunded mandates” imposed on all American taxpayers who bear the cost of federally-financed infrastructure damage and repairs. We expect that there could be several amendments seeking size and weight exemptions.
The compounding effect of these anti-safety provisions will allow trucks, the size of an eight-story building, higher risk interstate truck drivers, and insufficient insurance for large trucks. A national surface transportation authorization bill should not be a legislative vehicle to pass special interest provisions that would never be supported by the public. Yet, this bill is rife with truck safety rollbacks that throw the safety agenda into reverse and further endanger everyone on the roads.
Put the Brakes on these Anti-Safety Provisions.  Save Lives, Taxpayer Costs and our Crumbling Infrastructure.

 

“Towards Zero – There’s no one someone won’t miss.”

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