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April 6, 2017
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Testimony from a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security hearing on freight and infrastructure policy incorrectly represented the impact that widespread adoption of Twin 33s, which already operate safely in 20 states, would have on the trucking industry and highway safety.

Below are the facts on Twin 33s.

Even With Widespread Adoption Of Twin 33s, States Will Retain Control Over Equipment Adoption And Travel Limitations

Myth: Supporters of Twin 33s have proposed a federal mandate for double “thirty-three’s,” as opposed to the current system we have where states are able to choose. A federal mandate would preempt the laws of states that do not want them on the road, thereby overriding state legislative decisions.

Fact: Current federal law allowing the operation of Twin 28′ trailers gives states wide discretion to determine the appropriate roads on which these trucks can operate, and states may prohibit them from using routes that they determine are unsafe. This would not change under any proposed federal legislation that would allow for the operations of Twin 33s.

 

Truck Fatalities Have Declined With Twin Trailer Crash Rates One Of The Lowest Across Industry

Myth: Larger trucks, like twin 33’ trailers, have been involved in more and more accidents in recent years.

Fact: The fact are simple – large truck fatal crash involvement has declined 75 percent over the last four decades. Nationally, twin-trailer trucks have crash rates that are among the lowest in trucking, and among all types of motor vehicles. In 2014, large trucks traveled 9.2 percent of all U.S. vehicle miles, while only accounting for 2.9 percent of accidents involving injury and 4.5 percent involving property damage. For fatal crashes, they account for 8.3 percent, once again below the percent of miles driven by these trucks.

 

American Trucking Associations (ATA) Has Supported Twin 33 Expansion

Myth: American Trucking Associations previously supported a Twin 33 mandate and recently does not support this effort as a priority and is reevaluating previous claims.

Fact: American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear: “ATA’s standing policy supports productivity gains in the areas of both weight and length.” (Eugene Mulero, “UPS, FedEx, Amazon Form Twin 33s Advocacy Group,” Transport Topics, 1/23/17)

 

Law Enforcement Officials Support Widespread Twin 33 Adoption

Myth: There are huge safety concerns about the widespread adoption of Twin 33s expressed by sheriffs and the law enforcement community.

Fact: Multiple police groups support the widespread adoption of Twin 33s.

Chuck Canterbury, President, National Fraternal Order Of Police: “To the extent that we can reduce the number of large, heavy trucks on our nation’s highways, without a negative impact on commerce, we will make our roads safer and lessens the stress on our infrastructure. Using longer trucks may reduce the number of trucks in operation, which would make our highways safer and less congested.”

Bob Bushman, President, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition: “From our perspective, the benefit of this change is clear: as roadway freight shipments increase over time, the number of trucks required to carry that freight would increase at a slower rate than under the current policy limits. Slowing the growth in the number of truck trips while allowing for growth in freight shipments helps law enforcement on the side of the road -including the narcotic officers we represent.”

Brian Inman, President, Association of Montana Troopers: “It is a commonsense approach to improve productivity. By holding weight limits constant, there is no new risk to passenger vehicles. The increased cubic capacity of the twin trailers would allow up to 18 percent more freight to be carried by the same number of truck-trailer combinations. By reducing truck trips, we expect to see a dramatic decrease in accident rates over time.”

 

The Railroad Freight Industry Would Be Unaffected By Twin 33s

Myth: A move from twin 28’ trailers to twin 33’ trailers in the LTL market would negatively impact the freight rail industry, decreasing business in the short term and requiring significant changes to rail cars to accommodate the new trailers in the long term.

Fact: The fact is the LTL market does not serve the same market as the railroad industry. The hub-and-spoke nature of the LTL market keeps trailers in use on regular routes, and avoids competition with freight railroads. Additionally, any shift away from rail would have a negligible impact on rail market share or truck miles traveled. In the fourth quarter of 2014 just 1.7 percent of trailers or containers shipped by rail were 28’ long.

 

Twin 33 Adoption Would Not Strain Trucking Industry Or Create Additional Competition

Myth: Twin 33′ trailers would provide an unfair advantage to the LTL industry and force truck load carriers to switch away from single 53’ trailers.

Fact: Twin 33’ trailers will mainly be used in the less-than-truckload industry’s hub and spoke operations, and therefore not compete with the truckload industry. If Twin 33s were to be federally authorized, single 53′ trailers would surely continue as the workhorse for truckload operations due to their ability to travel on local roads, city streets and national highways.

Myth: There is overwhelming opposition to the use of twin 33’ trailers from within the trucking industry.

Fact: Some carriers have noted that Twin 33s are not practical for truckload operations, and we agree. Twin 33s are not economically viable for truckload operations, and practically speaking, Twin 33s can only run designated routes and are impractical for irregular route truckload operations.

Carriers also seem to falsely believe competition will make it harder for them to maintain profitability. However, as every Twin 33 proponent has said, this policy change does nothing to threaten truckload carriers’ current operations or equipment. Instead, it allows for businesses to meet growing consumer demand for lightweight goods by adopting the latest technologies that improve shipping efficiency.