Washington–The Senate today voted in favor of an amendment offered by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to remove a federal mandate from the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, H.R. 2577, that would force states to allow large trucks to pull double 33-foot trailers. The Wicker-Feinstein amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
“Allowing the monstrous twin-33 trucks on our highways without a full understanding of the safety implications would be irresponsible and dangerous,” Feinstein said. “In my view, such a sweeping change runs counter to all notions of public safety and has no place in an appropriations bill. Senator Wicker and I were successful in stripping the language from the transportation funding bill on the floor today. Under our amendment, the Department of Transportation must complete a safety study before any changes to truck length are considered. This is a big win for public safety. I thank the coalition of law enforcement, victims groups, unions and the trucking industry that came together and said no to bigger, more dangerous trucks.”
“A recent independent poll revealed that 77 percent of Americans oppose twin 33-foot trailer trucks on the nation’s highways and byways,” Wicker said. “The Senate stands with this overwhelming majority and with the 38 states who have said ‘no’ to these longer double trailers. This is a victory for public safety, states’ rights, and hard-working taxpayers.”
For the second time in as many weeks, the Senate has gone on record opposing this federal mandate. Last week, the Senate passed a motion to instruct conferees on the highway reauthorization bill that also sought to remove the mandate.
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 – equivalent to an 8-story office building. Currently, 38 states do not allow these longer trucks to operate within their jurisdictions. One study estimates that twin 33s would put more wear and tear on our nation’s roads, adding $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion in maintenance costs per year.
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.
Specifically, the Wicker-Feinstein amendment would require DOT to complete a comprehensive safety study before longer trucks are permitted on highways. It would also require the agency to conduct a formal rulemaking process with public notice and comment period.
Groups supporting the Wicker-Feinstein amendment opposing twin 33-foot trailers include Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the American Automobile Association, the Teamsters Union, the Truckload Carriers Association, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, several state trucking associations, the National Troopers Coalition, and other law enforcement associations throughout the country.