Congressman Michaud Introduces H.R. 1799 as transportation professionals move on Washington

Productivity, safety, and competition in the world of trucking transportation all got a boost this week when Congressman Mike Michaud introduced H.R. 1799, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009.

H.R. 1799 would give the option to individual states to increase their allowable weight on a single-trailer truck up to 97,000 pounds on their Interstate highways. These vehicles would be required to add a sixth axle for better braking and handling. Every truck that added the additional axle would be required to pay a higher fee to ensure that this legislation will be a financial net-gain for the federal government.

According to three coalitions that have been working for trucking productivity reform, this legislation will address many growing problems on our nation's highways such as:
* Congestion - Fewer trips will be needed to haul the same amount of freight, thus improving productivity and reducing fuel use.
* Global Warming - This improved productivity will reduce carbon emissions from truck transportation by as much as 42 billion pounds annually.
* Safety - Most importantly, making trucking more efficient, along with moving more traffic off of secondary roads and onto Interstate highways, will lead directly to fewer accidents and fatalities.
* Global Competition - Every one of America's major competitors allows six-axle vehicles on its highways, creating a competitive disadvantage for US companies.

In anticipation of this legislative proposal, three coalitions agreed to host a fly-in event in Washington, DC this week. Members of the Agricultural Transportation Efficiency Coalition (AgTEC), Americans for Safe and Efficient Transportation (ASET), and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) are in Washington to lobby in favor of H.R. 1799. "We will make our case that standing by while congestion and pollution continue to rise is not an option," commented ASET's Jake Jacoby. "We must think creatively when considering improvements to our entire transportation system."

John Runyan, of CTP, pointed out that studies ranging from the US Department of Transportation to the State of Wisconsin have highlighted the benefits of this important change. In a report issued in January of this year, the Wisconsin DOT found that if a proposal similar to Rep. Michaud's bill had been in place in 2006, there would have been 90 fewer heavy truck-related accidents on the highways of Wisconsin. "This is exactly the experience we want to replicate across the United States," Runyan said.

"This reform is long overdue for forest and agricultural producers," added AgTEC's Richard Lewis. "We need to improve flexibility for haulers of basic raw materials, to pull costs out of the system and to reduce congestion and accident exposures on local roads."