Blumenthal: Put the Brakes on Bigger Trucks

(Washington, DC) – At a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. outlined their bipartisan opposition to a federal mandate that would allow large trucks to pull double 33-foot trailers on the nation’s highways. The senators were joined by representatives from the trucking industry, Teamsters, law enforcement, and a safety advocacy group.

“Deadly doubles ‎are a dire threat to public safety,” Blumenthal said. “These massive, menacing highway hogs endanger cars and decimate roads. Requiring more road repair and causing crashes, their financial cost justifies a ban – but they also have costs in lives immeasurable in dollars. I'll continue this fight against the deadly double 33's in alliance with like-minded legislators.”

“We stand united in our efforts to oppose a federal mandate forcing long twin-33 trucks on our nation’s highways,” Wicker said. “Thirty-eight states, including Mississippi, have considered this issue and have chosen not to allow these trucks on their roads. Why should Washington, D.C., tell these states that we know better about safety decisions than they do at the local level? I will continue to fight to ensure that every Senator has the opportunity to vote up or down on this issue before it is allowed to proceed.”

“When I asked the California Department of Transportation whether they support twin-33s, they said they do not support these trucks…Even our federal Department of Transportation asked Congress not to pass any law until they can fully study this issue,” Feinstein said. “Instead, this would be a rider on an appropriations bill, with no discussion on the Commerce Committee, no real discussion by the Appropriations Committee.  It is one huge mistake.  And I, along with my colleagues, will do everything we can to prevent this from happening.”

Other participants at today’s press conference included Jackie Gillan of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong, James Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Dave Heller from the Truckload Carriers Association.

Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the transportation funding bill requiring states to allow trucks with two 33-foot trailers on their highways. A tractor trailer with two 33-foot trailers measures approximately 91 feet in total length. Current federal law permits double 28-foot trailers.

When the committee considered the measure, the Department of Transportation (DOT) advised that there is currently not enough data to draw firm conclusions on the safety implications of double 33-foot trailers. DOT recommended that no changes to truck size be considered at this time.

Those opposed to twin 33-foot trailers include Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Auto Safety, American Automobile Association (AAA), the Teamsters Union, several state trucking associations, the National Troopers Coalition, and other law enforcement associations throughout the country.