FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Stop More Giant Truck-Trailers on Your Highways

Are you one of the millions of people in the United States who drives a car every day? How do you react to the trucking industry, whose lobbyists with ample campaign cash swarm over Congress, pressing for a rider to a transportation appropriations bill to be passed to overturn laws in 39 states that currently ban unsafe double 33 foottractor-trailer combinations? What is your opinion of another provision in this bill to permanently increase truck driver working and driving hours up to 82 hours per week, abolishing the “weekend off” for two nights of restorative rest? Or what is your view of various exemptions that allow current federal truck weight limits of 80,000 lbs. to reach up to 129,000 lbs., further damaging roads and bridges already in need of repair? Or what is your reaction to certain members of Congress, owned by the trucking lobby led by Federal Express and UPS, continuing to freeze the absurdly low minimum insurance requirements for trucks and passenger-carrying busses?

Your replies, given polls going back twenty years, are likely to match the large majorities of people opposed to further unleashing more oversized, overweight trucks and tired truckers (see Parents Against Tired Truckers at http://trucksafety.org/tag/parents-against-tired-truckers/) onto our roads.

Members of Congress owned by the trucking industry such as Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) (a states’ rights advocate who should know better), are pushing this rider in an overall Senate Appropriations bill (the monster, HR 2577, has already passed the House of Representatives) without public input. Astonishingly, there have been no congressional hearings on the FedEx proposal to compel every state to allow double 33s!

The Appropriations Committee chairman, Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), supported vigorously by Dick Hall, chairman of his state’s Transportation Commission, voted against the trucking lobbies but lost the Committee by one vote late in June. Fortunately, the Department of Transportation and President Obama oppose increasing truck hazards on and to the highways.

The fight to stop this highway space grab now goes to the Senate floor where the Democrats and some Republicans will try to get this rider deleted. They have, led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), plenty of arguments. Listen to Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “Over the past five years alone (2009-2013), fatalities from large truck crashes have increased by 17% and injuries have increased by 28%. Every year, on average, there are 4,000 people killed and 100,000 more injured in large truck crashes which is equivalent to a major airplane crash every week of the year.”

Imagine, the big trucking industry now wants to roll back protections in 39 states, put longer double-trailers on your roads and cut back on giving truck drivers the rest they (and you) need.

Is there any limit on the supremacy of commercial greed over safety values? Go to these websites for “what you can do” details and factual rebuttals of the freight industry’s assertions that double 33s will result in fewer trucks on the road or that two trailer trucks are as safe as single unit trucks.

http://saferoads.org/

http://trucksafety.org/tag/citizens-for-reliable-and-safe-highways/

In past battles with the powerful trucking industry and its insidious ally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headed by Thomas Donohue (the former head of the American Trucking Associations), the railroads could be counted on to challenge the truck lobby. Solid freights using the railways make for safer roads and transport. Lately, however, the railroad interests have been less of a counter to the trucking industry, in part due to their investments in trucking operations.

So it’s up to all of you who outnumber even the number of dollars spent each year on your members of Congress by the freight industry coalition. (See http://www.citizen.org/documents/analysis-trucking-money-to-weaken-safety-rules-june-2015.pdf.) Yes, there are far more automobile drivers than the mass of dollars that the trucking companies float on Capitol Hill. But unlike those corporations supplying campaign cash, you have power because you have the votes.

It should not take descriptions of grisly casualties in crashes with overturned cars and trailer trucks to motivate automobile drivers, the people whose lives are at stake when roads become less safe. You’ve driven by these dreadful roadside scenes, even if you haven’t actually experienced them.

You can win this fight if you just spend a little time calling the Senators and Representatives who are advocating for the double trailers and weaker tired-trucker rules. Ask them either by telephone, letter or e-mail to send you a letter reporting how much money they have taken from the trucking companies and their allies over the past five years. They have to report this information to the Federal Election Commission.

Tell your members of Congress what kind of safety you want for you and your families by demanding safer, tougher rules for giant trucks, their loads, braking systems and adequately rested drivers—not a rollback!

Call the Congressional switchboard number (1-202-224-3121) and ask the always polite operator to transfer you to the Senators or Representatives whom you wish to admonish and advise. After all, if they are supposed to work for you, they need reminding that you’ll remember in November.

Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The  FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
REZA FIYOUZAT
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Occupied Pelosi’s Office for 13 Days
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Jill Richardson
Standardized Tests are Biased and Unhelpful
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
Sarah Anderson
A Holiday Comeback for Toys ‘R’ Us?
Sherry Brennan
Cutting Food Aid Promotes Hunger Not Work
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail