REACTION BY SAFETY GROUPS TO HOUSE TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF THE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION REAUTHORIZATION AND REFORM ACT (H.R. 3763)
October 22, 2015
Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee debated and voted to send H.R. 3763, The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act, to the House floor for consideration. The multi-year, multi-billion dollar legislation contains provisions that will make our roads and highways less safe unless they are stripped from the bill.
“The safety title of the bill is loaded down with special interest earmarks and giveaways to trucking industry lobbyists. At a time when highway and truck crash deaths and injuries are climbing, this bill is a safety setback. Today the losers are the American public and the winners are special trucking interests that succeeded in pushing proposals to rollback safety on our roads and highways,” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The bill will allow teen truck drivers, shield unsafe trucking and bus companies by hiding their safety scores from the public, thwart the government from issuing future safety rules and extend the 35-year delay in acting on adequate insurance levels for truck and bus companies.
Russ Swift, Co-Founder of the truck safety organization, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), lost his son, Jasen, a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, in a crash caused by a an 18-year old truck driver. A semi-truck attempting to make an illegal U-turn had stalled across both lanes of the highway. Jasen’s car collided with the center of the trailer, killing him instantly. Research showing the dangers and risks of young truck drivers is clear and it is compelling. Young drivers, 18 to 20, have crash rates that are four to six times higher than those of more mature truck drivers.
Russ Swift remarked, “It is incomprehensible to me that Congress is now considering legislation allowing 18-20 year olds to get behind the wheel of massive 18-wheelers. This reckless attempt by the trucking industry to sacrifice safety in order to address a perceived shortage of truck drivers will put the lives of everyone on the road at serious risk. Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Rather than taking commonsense and realistic steps to make truck driving safer the trucking industry is trying to put teens behind the wheel of a massive rig.”
Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safety Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration commented, “In all of my years of working to advance safety in Congress, this is the worst and broadest assault on truck safety that I have ever witnessed. It is the “El Nino” of industry attacks on truck safety – an intense storm of industry lobbyists battering commonsense laws, a flood of money into campaign coffers, and severe and sustained impacts on public safety resulting in widespread deaths and destruction.”
Cathy Chase, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated “The bill passed by this Committee today after 5 hours of deliberation will do little if anything to advance safety. This is a lost opportunity to address a major public health epidemic. Worse yet, today’s markup is only a preview of relentless efforts to increase truck size and weights for specific states and to add truck driver hours of service exemptions for specific industries.”
For additional information, please contact Allison Creagan-Frank, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 202-408-1711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.