U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) re-introduced legislation designed to keep bigger, heavier trucks off the road. Existing federal truck size and weight limits to the entire National Highway System (NHS) will be applied. Currently these restrictions apply only to interstate highways.
"When super-sized tractor-trailers are on the road, they are a threat to drivers and the integrity of our highways and bridges," Lautenberg said. "Closing the loophole that keeps these long, overweight trucks on our National Highway System will protect families and preserve our nation's infrastructure. Trucks play a critical role in our nation's economy, but they also share the roads with our families, so we must do everything we can to make our nation's highways safer and prevent tragic accidents. This is thoughtful, common-sense legislation that would maintain our highways, grow our economy, and ensure safe roads for commuters and families."
The following organizations support the bill: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Trauma Foundation, KidsAndCars.org, the Consumer Federation of America, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), AAA, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and the Truck Safety Coalition.
The "Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act of 2013" (SHIPA), Lautenberg's bill, would limit of 80,000 pounds and maximum length of 53 feet for tractor-trailer trucks to the entire NHS, while still allowing certain exemptions, including for firefighting equipment. The NHS includes both interstate highways and smaller national highways. Most truck size and weight restrictions already apply to the 44,000-mile Interstate Highway System. The bill would extend certain restrictions to the much bigger 220,000-mile NHS and will also expand the current freeze of triple-tractor trailer operations on interstates to apply to the broader NHS. Furthermore, the bill would close loopholes that allow the operation of overweight trucks and would establish an enforcement program to ensure accountability.
According to Lautenberg, bigger trucks - both those that are heavier and longer than standard trucks - present safety risks, including longer stopping distances, increased risks of rollover and of trailers swaying into adjacent lanes. Research shows that a 100,000-pound truck with unadjusted brakes travels 25 percent further after the driver steps on the brakes than an 80,000-pound truck. Large trucks account for a disproportionately high share of deaths based on miles traveled compared to standard vehicle traffic. In 2011, 3,757 people died and 88,000 were injured in traffic accidents involving a large truck. In addition, big trucks pose threats to America's roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
According to two recent independent polls, more than 72% of Americans oppose efforts to allow heavier trucks on our roads. Additionally, 85% of Americans do not want to pay for the increased damage done by heavier trucks.
Lautenberg, the Senate's leader on transportation safety, wrote the law that banned triple-trailer "killer trucks" in New Jersey and on most other states' roads.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Companion legislation is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-3).
Source: J.J Keller