Freeze truck lengths and weights? Most truckers say 'yes'

| 5/23/2003

In a press briefing Thursday on Capitol Hill, an alliance of highway safety advocates announced strong support of a U.S. congressional move to say no to bigger, heavier trucks. And a majority of the nation’s truckdrivers agree, says the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT), which wants to freeze truck length and weight on the National Highway System, praised the bill, known as the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, or SHIPA. SHIPA was introduced this week by Rep. James McGovern, D-MA.

Big and bigger?

How big a truck can be in terms of weight and length is limited by a 1991 law. Longer combination vehicles, or LCVs, can only operate in 16 states. The new SHIPA measure would extend those existing limits, which now apply only to the 44,000 miles of federal interstate highways, to the entire 156,000-mile National Highway System.

"These trucks are dangerous, they are unnecessary and they cause millions of dollars in damage to our roads and bridges," Rep. McGovern said at the briefing.

The measure’s Republican and Democrat sponsors hope to include the bill into the six-year highway funding legislation now being drafted.

Supporters of the legislation include the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a group with more than 95,000 professional truckdriver members. OOIDA says an overwhelming majority of the trucking industry wants to see this legislation happen. On the other side of the fence is the American Trucking Associations, which sees truck-trailer combinations – some of which would run the size of a Boeing 737 – as a good thing.

After CABT’s press briefing Thursday, ATA spoke out against the coalition, indicating its efforts would be counterproductive to the economy.

“Once again, ATA is misrepresenting the vast majority of the people they claim to represent,” says OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “I cannot believe these people want bigger, heavier trucks that are more challenging to handle for the driver, when the industry doesn’t even train truckdrivers to drive them.”

The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks opposes efforts at all levels of government to make trucks longer and heavier. CABT includes public citizen organizations, state and local law-enforcement agencies, senior citizens, highway safety, environmental and business groups.

Among those who have endorsed SHIPA are OOIDA, AAA, the National Troopers Coalition, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the Clean Air Council, National Association of Police Organizations, the Gray Panthers, the Society of Trauma Nurses, the National Association of EMTs, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the General Federation of Women's Clubs and the Law Enforcement Steering Committee.