House bill could change trucking regulations

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Safety advocates held a press conference in Raleigh Monday asking lawmakers to reject changes to trucking regulations.

The policy provisions are part of the 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill.

The proposal would force states to allow longer double trailers on the road and increase the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel.

Jennifer Tierney, a Kernersville resident and Truck Safety Coalition NC volunteer coordinator, attended the press conference in Raleigh. Her father, Jim Mooney, died in accident involving a large truck when he was 55 years old.

“[Double trailers] already are crashing and killing people at a much greater rate than the smaller trailers are. Yet they're asking to make them bigger,” said Tierney. “They're willing to play Russian roulette with your loved ones. I don't think it's worth it. I don't think you'll find anyone that travels our highways that thinks it is.”

Many large trucking companies, including FedEx, are pushing for the policy changes. Company executives say increasing the size of doubles from 28 feet to 33 feet would increase production and reduce the number of trips and miles truckers spend on the road.

Old Dominion Freight Line is also in favor of the change.

“Old Dominion Freight Line supports legislative efforts to improve productivity without compromising safety, including the current proposal regarding a modest increase in trailer length. Old Dominion is a member of the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking (“CERT”), and directs any further inquiry on this matter to CERT,” according to statement sent to Fox8.

Congressman David Price is the only North Carolina representative on the House Appropriations Committee. He wrote a letter to the Truck Safety Coalition opposing the changes.

“As the ranking members of the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, I share your concerns about the inclusion of policy riders related to truck safety in this year’s appropriations bill. I understand the importance of reliable and safe highways for everyone, especially to those families that have been impacted by truck accidents. I look forward to working with you all in the future to ensure the safety of our roads,” wrote Price in the letter.

Truck safety advocates urge people to call elected officials about the legislation.

“It is insane to think they would come to Congress and want heavier, longer, bigger and more tired truckers on the road.

It's something that is hard for those of us who have lost loved ones to even understand,” said Tierney.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to hold a markup meeting regarding the FY 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill Wednesday morning at 10:15 a.m. in Washington.

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