SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, FOLLOWING HIS PUSH, SENATE PUTS THE BRAKES ON TRACTOR TRAILER PROVISION THAT OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE ALLOWED EXCESSIVELY LONG & DANGEROUS 84-FOOT TRUCKS – THE SIZE OF AN 8-STORY BUILDING ON ITS SIDE – ON UPSTATE ROADS & BRIDGES
Earlier This Year, Senate Appropriations Committee Adopted A Provision That Would Have Allowed Twin 33’ Trucks On NYS Roadways & Bridges; Schumer Launched Campaign to Fight against Legislation That Would Preempt New York Law
Schumer Announces, After His Push, Senate Successfully Struck Provision in the T-HUD Appropriations Bill That Would Have Allowed Oversized Trucks On Major NYS Roadways
On Average 4,000 People Die In Truck-Related Accidents Every Year; Longer Trucks, With Wider Turning Radiuses And Longer Passing Distances, Would Have Made LI Roadways Even More Dangerous
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced, after his push, the Senate has struck a provision in the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that would have permitted twin 33-foot trucks on many Upstate New York roadways. Schumer said this provision would have preempted New York State law and allowing these longer trucks on the road would have placed a greater strain on existing infrastructure unsuited for heavier trucks and led to a greater risk of auto accidents. Schumer successfully fought the provision, and it was struck from the Senate THUD bill yesterday.
“It’s good news for all of New York that the Senate pulled the emergency brake on this dangerous provision allowing trucks the size of an 8-story building on our roads. The fact of the matter is, these longer, double-hitched tractor-trailers are a tremendous road safety risk to people and infrastructure alike: they take longer to stop, they have wider turning radiuses, and they place a greater strain on our roads and bridges which are already in need of repair,” said Senator Schumer. “The marginal increase in shipping efficiency does not outweigh the tremendous safety risks of these larger trucks on our roadways, and I am pleased that my colleagues have helped me in striking this provision from the appropriations bill.”
The provision would have allowed trucks with two 33-foot tractor trailers to travel on New York State roadways on the National Highway System. The current limit on the National Highway System is double 28-foot trailers, meaning this truck would be 10 feet longer than what is allowed on major roadways. However, these twin 33-foot trucks would also likely replace the single 54-foot trailers, in which case these trucks would actually be 17 feet longer. Schumer explained that this significant increase and the sheer length of these trailers would make them a serious safety hazard.
According to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, truck crash fatalities have gone up by 17% and injuries by 28% nationwide over the last four years. Because the number of accidents involving large trucks is already high, Schumer said even larger trucks could make New York State roadways even less safe and so, it is good news that this provision was struck. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), across all of New York State, there were a total of 620 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2014, including 357 across Upstate New York alone. In addition, between 2013 and 2014, there were a total of 8,130 non-fatal crashes involving large trucks in New York State, including 6,779 in Upstate New York alone.
Studies have found that multi-trailer trucks have a significantly higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks. In particular, these 84-foot trucks have large blind spots that put other motorists in danger if the truck driver does not see them. In addition, the dual-trailer length poses an increased risk at intersections, because these trucks require a much wider turning radius – 6 feet longer. These “twin 33s” require a much larger stopping distance as well, approximately 20 feet, 10% longer than the double 28-foot trailers. Finally, the extended length also makes merging and passing very difficult for both the driver and other motorists on the road.
In addition to these major safety concerns, Schumer explained that, despite the fact that New York has a ban on these large trucks traveling on most roadways, the Senate THUD bill’s provision was written in a way that would have superseded New York State law. In fact, this provision would have preempted the existing law in 39 states which have set a limit on maximum truck length. Currently, larger trucks can only drive on the NYS Thruway; this provision would have forced New York to allow these 84-foot trailers on all roads on the National Highway System, including roads like Routes 219 in the Southern Tier and 17 in the Hudson Valley, in addition to ones like Routes 5 and 20 in the Finger Lakes region and Central New York. Schumer said the urbanized areas throughout Upstate New York that these trucks would be allowed to drive on include: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Glens Falls, Ithaca, Kingston, Middletown, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown.
Finally, these large trucks would have likely placed a greater strain on existing infrastructure unsuited to withstand heavier trucks on roadways. In fact, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has indicated there are many bridges and roadways that would be unable to handle such heavy weights, even on major highways. The USDOT estimates that this provision would have caused between 1.8% and 2.7% increase in pavement maintenance costs and more than 2,500 bridges would require strengthening or replacement as a result of this amendment, potentially costing more than $1 billion.
Congress must pass appropriations bills before December 11, 2015. Schumer will continue his push to keep the provision out of the final legislation. During his initial push, Schumer provided the number of fatal motor vehicle crashes, as well as non-fatal crashes – including injuries and tow-away accidents – involving large trucks by region as evidence that this provision should not be passed.
- In the Capital Region, there were 61 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 994 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
- In Central New York, there were 50 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 883 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
- In Western New York, there were 60 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 943 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes, there were 52 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 920 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
- In the Southern Tier, there were 41 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 665 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
- In the Hudson Valley, there were 67 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 1,942 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
- In the North Country, there were 26 fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2009-2013, and 432 non-fatal crashes from 2013-2014.
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