Congress is working this month on the next surface transportation reauthorization. Consequently, a large coalition of public health and safety groups, law enforcement, truck drivers and truck crash victims are descending on Capitol Hill this week to oppose increase to federal truck size/weight limits.
Concerns about a possible policy change are due to DOT’s Federal Highway Administration is conducting a study on truck size and weight, which, some maintain, has major flaws and biases.
Specifically, the objections center on the methodology of the study, and the very short timeframe in which it was conducted.
The coalition’s trip to Capitol Hill came a day after a Transportation Research Board peer review found shortcomings in the study and offered various recommendations to make it better.
According to US Rep. Jim McGovern, there are serious concerns about the study that DOT conducted on this issue. He noted that if DOT failed to include common configurations of truck’s in the study, then the validity of the study is questionable.
Some of the groups present on Capitol Hill included Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
CRASH Chair Joan Claybrook stated that the ongoing problems with the US DOT Truck Size and Weight Study need to be addressed right away by the Obama Administration. If not, Claybrook said, the study will become a ‘lottery prize’ for corporate trucking interests to push through bigger, heavier and more dangerous trucks on US highways.
He added that serious mistakes and missteps by DOT, have produced a poor, inaccurate study that is putting corporate profits ahead of the safety of the public.
Meanwhile, trucking interests are divided on this issue. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn has long opposed truck weight increases. They argue that owner-operators and smaller trucking firms will be at a major disadvantage in being able to buy new equipment and to pay for higher fuel costs.