Gov. Butch Otter signed a bill this week allowing tractor-trailer combos of up to 97 feet in length to travel Idaho roads in the National Highway System. The bill drew almost no opposition from anyone in the Idaho Legislature. Interestingly, it passed the Senate just a day after state Sen. Tim Corder (R-Mountain Home) - owner of a trucking company - showcased some big rigs in front of the Statehouse.
Now read this story from TomPaine.com:
The motive of the trucking companies is clear enough: Longer truck combinations mean fewer trips and fewer drivers, which cuts their costs and allows them to add to their profits. For this reason, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the American Trucking Association and other industry trade associations and their members have all pushed hard to have this new regulation passed while no one was paying attention.
But opposition has emerged. Truckers like J.J. Bishop, a longtime Teamster driver based in Auburn, WA, testified about seeing a horrible accident caused by one of these saddlemounts, saying: "The general public doesn't realize what a risk these trucks are. These combinations have a tendency to sway, making them extremely hard to control and extremely dangerous."
Besides the first-hand observations of the people who ought to know best—the drivers—the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has said in its comments to the FHA that the new size limitation "has raised serious concerns among some state enforcement officials concerning possible safety and infrastructure issues."
Most Idaho legislators (Rs and Ds alike) had absolutely no problem with the idea of 97-foot-trucks lumbering down our highways, but apparently, this is not yet a done deal on the federal level. If you think these behemoths are a bad idea, email Richard Capka, head of the Federal Highway Administration. Then watch out, since it's unlikely this Bush admin appointee is going to give a hoot what we say. At least the Frankentrucks won't be allowed to go 70 mph.
Hat tip to Colorado's Bright and Shiny Neon Blog.