Despite strong democratic opposition, the United States Senate passed a provision to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bill that allows the nationwide use of twin 33-foot motor carrier trailers.
The provision passed on June 25, 2015 by a 16-14 vote that drew strong party lines. Republican Senator Richard Shelby, sponsor of the bill, argued the law would improve safety on the nation’s highways. Democratic opponents, including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), urged the panel to reject the bill due to safety concerns.
The bill was approved by the House of Representatives June 9, 2015. The bill was strongly supported by the American Trucking Association, whose representative made a statement that the provisions of the bill “are critical for improving the safety and efficiency of the trucking industry.”
The provision was introduced as an amendment to the transportation bill and would allow state governors and state departments to request an exemption if they are not able to meet the safety requirements for accommodating a commercial truck with twin 33-foot trailers.
The provision includes evaluation measures as well. After 3 years the Secretary of Transportation is required to update Congress with a crash analysis that compares twin 28-foot trailers and twin 33-foot trailers. The report is required to include technological recommendations for collision avoidance and stability control in order to improve safety of the vehicles.
The $55.6 billion draft funding measure would provide $572 million for the Federal Carrier Safety Administration and $500 million for a high-profile infrastructure grants program.