Stroudsburg, PA- With a provision to increase the size of trucks on Pennsylvania roads weeks away from potentially becoming law, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) launched a new effort to a reverse a policy that was tucked into a must-pass spending bill that would pave the way for the increase in truck size. In the Poconos, which is at the center of the region’s truck traffic, Casey was joined by officials in the region responsible for public safety and unveiled a new letter calling on House Speaker John Boehner to reverse course on a policy that would allow bigger trucks on the road in its upcoming transportation bill. County data shows 2,500 accidents involving large trucks have occurred in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 2011. The measure, which Casey opposes, would allow 85 feet double tractor-trailer trucks, so-called ‘Twin 33s’, on the road. These trucks are 17 feet longer with larger blind spots than current trucks on the road.
“Everyone who drives has been next sandwiched between a truck and a guard rail at one time or another. The only thing a driver wants when one of those trucks wizzes by is more space, not less. The simple fact is that bigger trucks on the road mean the potential for larger accidents and increased dangers for children and families,” Senator Casey said. “We have to remember that these are the roads that take our kids to school, our elderly to their appointments and our first responders to the sites of emergencies. The House of Representatives has what may be the last opportunity to remove this provision and they should take it.”
Number of Accidents Involving Large Trucks Since 2011 in NEPA:
- Luzerne – 560
- Lackawanna – 433
- Monroe – 345
- Wayne – 53
- Pike – 94
- Columbia – 140
- Schuylkill – 362
- Tioga – 99
- Bradford – 204
- Susquehanna - 158
- Sullivan – 12
- Wyoming – 99
For a county by county breakdown of accidents involving large trucks, visit the US Department of Transportation's Crash Statistics Map.
The full text of Casey’s letter can be seen below:
Dear Mr. Speaker:
As you continue to work on a long-term surface transportation bill, I write to you today to urge you to include a provision that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to complete a safety study before longer trucks are permitted on highways. Senators Wicker and Feinstein introduced an amendment on this issue during consideration of the Senate transportation bill, but it was not allowed to come for a vote. We need to evaluate all of the facts and receive more information before we make a big change to federal law.
I am very concerned with provisions that were inserted into the Senate and House Appropriations bills that would allow longer trucks on our nation’s roads. A provision to increase truck length would supersede Pennsylvania laws, mandating them to allow companies to operate 33 foot double trailers. In Pennsylvania, not only are there grave concerns about the impact these longer trucks would have on the aging infrastructure, including thousands of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges, but also the increased potential for larger accidents on highways and local roads.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) there were 4,886 accidents involving large trucks in 2011 in Pennsylvania. This number increased to 6,683 in 2014, representing a 36.7% increase in accidents. Such a significant increase in a short amount of time raises many concerns and increase the length of trucks on our roads could lead to even more accidents. Additionally, with Pennsylvania leading the nation with 5,050 structurally deficient bridges we cannot afford to allow longer trucks on the roads that will put additional strain on our already aging infrastructure.
I have personally heard from many constituents, police chiefs and local elected officials who are concerned about these risks and oppose the inclusion of this provision to allow longer trucks on highways. Robust interstate commerce is critical to our economy, yet, this misguided attempt to increase efficiency should not come at the expense of the safety of our communities, families, children and drivers.
Thank you for your consideration of my request.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator