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
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Ellen Lindeen
What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?
Adewale Maye and Eileen Appelbaum
Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford
Ramzy Baroud
War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
Ann Garrison
Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
Jill Richardson
Why is Going Green So Hard? Because the System Isn’t
Mallika Khanna
The Greenwashing of Earth Day
Arshad Khan
Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?
Paul Armentano
Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line
B. R. Gowani
Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump
Paul Buhle
Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society
David Yearsley
Call Saul
Elliot Sperber
Ecology Over Economy 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail