The Senate on Wednesday voted to remove a federal mandate from the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that would force states to allow large trucks to pull double 33-foot trailers.
The amendment, offered by U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, (R-Miss.), and Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), was adopted by a voice vote.
“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.”
“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. Under our amendment, the Department of Transportation must complete a safety study before any changes to truck length are considered,” Feinstein said.
Meanwhile, Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), expressed disappointment following a vote against what he termed, “a common sense productivity increase for the trucking industry.”
“It is unfortunate the Senate has chosen to give up on what could be a very beneficial change in policy,” Graves said in a statement. “This modest increase in tandem trailer length would reduce the number of truck trips needed to move an increasing amount of freight while making better use of a dwindling pool of drivers.
“This common sense solution holds the potential to ease congestion, reduce emissions and improve the efficiency of the supply chain,” he said.
“There are so many upsides to the use of twin 33s (trailers) that it is inevitable this change will come to pass. Decision makers cannot continue to embrace unsafe and unproductive strategies, and expect to have this nation’s freight continue to get delivered. Ultimately the economy will win this debate.”
Graves concluded by writing, “I urge lawmakers to retain the language voted on in the House that would permit these safe and efficient vehicles on America’s highways.”
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.