Advocates’ Statement on Omnibus Riders That Degrade Truck Safety

  • March 22, 2018
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             

March 22, 2018

Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294,

Statement of Cathy Chase,

President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

On Dangerous and Deadly Riders in Omnibus that Degrade Truck Safety

Late last night, Congress released a massive government funding bill known as the “omnibus” that includes several policy riders that rollback highway safety and benefit trucking interests at the expense of the safety of families traveling on our roads and highways.  These giveaways have been tacked onto a “must pass” appropriations bill – bypassing the committees of jurisdiction and evading agency review or public input.  In recent years, truck crashes, deaths, and injuries have been skyrocketing.  Each day on average, over 10 people are killed and 300 more are injured in crashes involving a large truck.  The annual death toll from truck crashes amounts to a major airline crash every other week of the year.  This is unacceptable and would not be tolerated in any other industry.  Yet, Congress continues to give priority to well-funded special interests over human lives by allowing the appropriations process to be hijacked by policy anomalies.

These riders weaken regulations in place to combat known crash risk factors – truck driver fatigue and bigger, heavier trucks.  Specifically, one provision would exempt certain industries from a rule that requires truck drivers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to comply with hours of service (HOS) rules.  Fatigue is a well-known and well-documented safety problem.  Further, the rule requiring ELDs had strong bipartisan support in Congress, was implemented through an extensive rulemaking process undertaken by the expert regulatory agency, and was subject to review by a Federal Court.

Additionally, the bill will also allow two states, North Dakota and New Hampshire, to operate trucks that far exceed the current federal weight limit of 80,000 pounds, with 129,000 and 99,000-pound exemptions respectively.  Bigger and heavier trucks are not only unsafe but also hasten the destruction of our Nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

The debate over the practicality and effectiveness of ELDs and keeping bigger, heavier trucks off roads and highways has long been settled.  Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous professions, and these fundamental and minimal safety laws and rules protect not only truck drivers but all road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.  Congress should be doing all it can to reduce the preventable tragedies on our roads.  Instead, with this bill, they are handing over the pen to special trucking interests to rewrite federal law and put lifesaving protections on the sidelines.