Heavy-Spending Trucking Industry Pushes Congress to Relax Safety Rules
Article credit to Brian Joseph via Fair Warning
Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.
Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers.
The proposals represent a wish list of the trucking industry, including allowing significantly longer and heavier trucks, and younger drivers. The industry spends heavily on lobbying and campaign contributions, giving largely to Republicans, who control both the House and Senate.
Supporters insist the proposals actually will improve public safety by cutting the number of trucks on the road while also helping the trucking industry address a shortage of drivers. But critics reject the safety claims as ridiculous, saying the proposals would enrich the trucking industry, not protect the public.
Truck safety advocates – many of whom have lost loved ones in big rig crashes – are dismayed over what they describe as the industry’s efforts to use Congress to achieve dangerous policy changes.
“There’s no logical reason why this would make our streets safer,” said Laurie Higginbotham of Memphis, Tenn. She said her 33-year-old son, Michael, was killed when his Jeep Cherokee plowed into a tractor-trailer making an illegal U-turn on a dark stretch of road in November 2014.