Teamsters Oppose FMCSA’s Proposal for Bigger Rigs

Saying the Bush administration wants to “turn big rigs into time bombs,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa yesterday announced that the union opposes the administration’s plan to relax restrictions on truck size and weight. The announcement was in response to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposal of a pilot program along the border states that will allow larger trucks to operate on U.S. interstates.

"Bigger trucks are more dangerous trucks," Hoffa said. "Lifting truck weight and size limits would turn big rigs into time bombs. . . .Bush has opened the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico and allowed truck drivers to spend more time behind the wheel. Further weakening safety rules is the last thing our drivers need right now."

The Teamsters represent 140,000 drivers who operate tractor-trailers, with some driving doubles or triples. Teamster truck driver Vince Brezinsky of Dallas has been driving long-haul trucks for 31 years, and he testified Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit about the dangers of allowing bigger, heavier trucks on the road, noting that bigger trucks take longer to stop, are harder to get up to highway speed in merge lanes, and are too long to make tight turns. “Our current highway system is not built for longer and heavier trucks,” he said.

Citing a road test conducted by the American Association of State Highway Officials, Brezinsky added that it takes 9,600 cars to cause the same road damage caused by a fully loaded 80,000-pound truck. He also noted that heavier trucks are not fuel efficient.

FMCSA Communications Director Kristin Schrader said FMCSA was not asked to testify at the hearing and that the Teamsters' indictment of FMCSA's involvement in "the so-called pilot program" does not make sense. Schrader noted that FHA Executive Director Jeffrey Paniati's testimony at the hearing included only the following reference to FMCSA: "[The Federal Highway Administration] is collaborating with one of our sister agencies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), on roadside automated enforcement tools that will support the weighing and inspecting of trucks and enable driver and company validation at highway speeds. These tools will enable more comprehensive coverage of the system and more efficient monitoring and enforcement of size and weight requirements across the entire network."

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