June 22, 2015
Honorable Thad Cochran
S-128 U.S. Capitol
Washington DC 20510
Honorable Barbara Mikulski
S-146A U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510
Subject: Support for Twin 33’ Trailers
Dear Chairman Cochran and Ranking Member Mikulski:
Thank you for your continued leadership and recognition of the need for smart investments in our Nation’s transportation infrastructure as well as your solid commitment to improving transportation safety. During my nearly seven-year tenure at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), I was privileged to have the opportunity to testify on numerous occasions before your Committee, as well as many others both in the House and the Senate, on the important issues surrounding America’s transportation sector. Each time I appeared, I found the Members and Committee staff to be knowledgeable, respectful and receptive of the positions I presented on behalf of the NTSB.
But, I also have seen during my many years in Washington, while in the private sector and in government, particularly as Chairman of the NTSB, how partisan politics and emotional arguments can unfortunately sidetrack the development and implementation of innovation and sound public policies.
It is for this reason that I write today. As you know, there are activities currently in the Congress to institute a change in the length limits on twin trailers in the less than truckload (LTL) market. This week the Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the THUD Appropriations Bill and potentially an amendment to include a proposal to allow LTL carriers a modest extension of twin trailers from 28 to 33 feet. I have studied this proposal closely. I have examined the literature including independent studies, as well as the 2002 recommendations from the Transportation Research Board at the National Academies. I believe this change is sound public policy and encourage you to give every measure of support to its enactment.
The legislative proposal requires no public investment and would have no bearing on federal weight limits – currently at 80,000 pounds gross – for these trucks and would keep in place the current restrictions on which roads are suitable for their operations. The resulting increase in productivity – by some estimates as much as 16 to 18 percent – in the LTL segment of the trucking industry means less wear and tear on our infrastructure, fewer trucks on the road to move the same amount of freight and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
I urge your support and would be happy to discuss the issue with you at a time suitable to you.