US Senate puts brakes on longer trailer legislation

The US Senate has blocked new legislation that would allow twin 33-foot trailers to operate nationally, saying it first must be shown that the vehicles don't undermine safety.

The proposed federal mandate would have forced all states to allow trucks with extra-long double trailers on interstate highways, a configuration that is currently only permitted in 12 US states and would bring the overall combination length to 91 feet.

By a vote of 56-31, the Senate now stopped the process and asked a team of negotiators to work out the final language of the legislation, yet only after the Department of Transportation completes a safety study and determines the trucks would cause no “statistically significant” decrease in safety.

Earlier this year, a Senate committee approved an amendment to a separate spending bill requiring all states to allow the longer double trailers. A similar provision was added to a spending bill that passed the House.

Some large trucking and delivery companies, including FedEx and UPS, have been strongly lobbying Congress for permission to use the longer trucks on interstates nationwide, working with the so-called Coalition for Efficient & Responsible Trucking, an umbrella group for supporters of extra-long double trailers.

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