Senate seeks safety review of longer trailers
WASHINGTON — The Senate went on record Tuesday against a federal mandate that would force all states to allow trucks with extra-long double trailers on interstates, saying it first must be shown that the vehicles don't undermine safety.
By a vote of 56-31, the Senate instructed negotiators assigned to work out the final language of a sweeping transportation bill to allow individual trailer lengths to increase from 28 feet to 33 feet only after the Transportation Department completes a safety study and determines the trucks would cause no statistically significant decrease in safety.
Earlier this year, a Senate committee approved an amendment to a separate spending bill requiring all states to allow the longer double trailers. A similar provision was added to a spending bill that passed the House.
Safety advocates said they were concerned negotiators will add the same truck provision to the transportation bill even though the provision wasn't included in versions of the transportation bill passed by the House last week and the Senate in July. That's why they supported the motion by Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to instruct negotiators to make longer trucks on federal interstates contingent on the government first showing they are safe.