All That's Trucking

Bernie Sanders vs. Trucks – and the Importance of Context

March 16, 2016

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Bernie Sanders may need a little education on the essentiality of trucks, but contrary to what you may have heard, he's not calling for a ban.

The trucking web lit up this week with news that the Democratic presidential candidate told a crowd of supporters the U.S. could do “incredible things” like building a rail system to “take trucks off the roads” if he’s elected president.

Thanks to a short clip posted on Facebook that took the remarks out of context, some people apparently took that to mean he wanted to ban trucks altogether in favor of rail. This, of course, is something we all know is impossible, since railroads don't deliver to your local Wal-mart and sure as heck won't deliver your Amazon Prime order to your front door.

It is true that Sanders wants to improve the rail system in our country and reduce the number of trucks on the roads -- it's part of his proposal to combat climate change, and that's what he was talking about in this speech in Miami on March 8.

In the proposal on his website, Sanders explains, "We must move our transportation sector beyond oil by running our cars and trucks on electricity generated by solar and wind power. We need efficient public transportation, advanced renewable fuels and high-speed passenger and cargo rail."

Sanders contends that, "Once we have a state-of-the-art rail system, we will not only be able to move passengers and cargo faster and more efficiently, we will make significant cuts in carbon pollution emissions that cause climate change."

Surely the American Trucking Associations has shared with Bernie the numbers from last year's "U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast to 2026," which concluded that trucking will still be the dominant mode of freight transportation, although its share of the tonnage will dip slightly from 68.8% to 64.6% in 2026. The railroad’s share of freight tonnage is forecasted to decrease from 14.2% in 2015 to 12.3% in 2026. Intermodal freight will be the second fastest growing mode at 4.5% annually through 2021 and 5.3% after that.

So other than reducing the number of trucks on the road by shifting some of the freight to rail, how else does Sanders plan to address transportation's contribution to climate change? He wants to "create clean, domestic energy alternatives to power our cars and trucks," notes the website, saying "the transportation sector accounts for about 26% of carbon pollution emissions."

One of the ways he wants to do that in the automotive sector is to increase fuel economy standards to 65 mpg by 2025. He's pushing electric cars and renewable fuels, but wants to ban fracking for natural gas.

There's no word on what fuel economy standards he might have in mind for commercial trucks, but you could bet he would push the EPA and NHTSA to move even faster and farther than they currently are.

But he's not banning trucks.


  1. 1. Cliff Downing [ March 17, 2016 @ 03:40AM ]

    You can tell Bernie has not one clue how logistics works. And a truck is still going to have to move freight from the railhead to the end user. And most of those trucks that do that are the ones he wants off the road. Tin Can hauling trucks are the worse of the bunch when it comes to being nasty for the environment and safety. But he is a unapologetic Communist, so all of his diatribes make sense in that venue. And his fuel economy standards only make sense from the average commuter standpoint. I would love to see how he could get a 3/4 pickup that works the farm to be able to do any productive work if getting 65 mpg. The man is about as myopic as they come.

  2. 2. Joseph G Knudson [ March 17, 2016 @ 10:50AM ]

    This is a classic example of someone making a well meaning but poorly worded comment. Trucks will still be the major mode of transportation for time sensitive parts and for final delivery. However, there is a place for a partnership between trucks and rail. If a shipper has 20 truckloads of toilet paper to run to a DC it does make sense to put them on rail cars for the cross country part of the shipment and use trucks for the final delivery. Of course this also requires the RR companies to get better efficiency on their end. And it will also require better planning on the part of shippers. There will always be a certain amount of friction between rail and trucks but a little cooperation could spur jobs and economic growth.

  3. 3. Steve Taylor [ March 18, 2016 @ 08:38AM ]

    I'm amazed at how everyday people that call themselves "Democrats " and support the Democrat party never really seem to hear what their candidates say in their speeches. They say that they're for the middle class, but you can hear them in just about every speech, talk about ending middle class, blue collar jobs. Sanders want to take a lot of trucks off the road. Clinton says ( in Virginia by the way ) that she's going to put coal minors and plant owners out of business. I'm sorry, but when I ( a conservative ) see a train with 200 or more 53 ft. trailers on it, I say to my self " there's 200 drivers out of work. Having been in the trucking business for 30 years, that really pisses me off! Wake up you Democrats. They've never done anything for the middle class. They campaign on the same issues every single election cycle, but after getting elected, they never do anything to help anybody. If they did, they wouldn't have any campaign issues next time around. Wake up and smell the
    Democrat B.S.

  4. 4. Lee Lenard [ March 19, 2016 @ 04:09PM ]

    Well Steve, we did wake up in 2008....even with all the Republican obstruction we still have a Minimum wage, healthcare controls, Social Security retirement (the only thing left for many truckers after Republican Wall Street rip of of retirements and 401K's), Jobs!, bet you are working, livable wages for most truckers and still some with good union benefits (which starting with Ronald Regan) the Republicans want to kill completely...there are roads, fire departments, police along with social safety nets (which Republicans want to eliminate).....Agree, we have some problems with regulations which can be overdone or over restricted without any benefits......that's why we all need to stay engaged in our political system and get thru with a understanding......I know just about as many men who have lost good railroad jobs over past 30 years as there are 53 footers on rail...truckers take them off and deliver. Not everyone wants to run long haul.

  5. 5. Steve [ March 29, 2016 @ 04:21AM ]

    Bernie is a commie bastard.

  6. 6. Jennifer [ March 31, 2016 @ 06:36AM ]

    First, the Dems went after the coal companies; now the trucking companies. The Dems are unreal & toxic to America!!! How much would it cost when a train derails vs a truck accident? And how many toxins would be dumped into our ground and watershed from a derailment?? Trains are powered by diesel & electric which means lots of emissions from diesel unless they are required to use DEF as well. We would need more power plants to provide power to the trains if going with electric which will cause more toxic emissions & dangers. The safest most efficient fuel for a power plant is coal but wait the Dems are trying to shut down coal companies and turn to natural gas or nuclear. Which both can pose imminent hazard to citizens quality of life and can take out a block or an entire city if something goes awry? ? ?

  7. 7. Steve [ April 11, 2016 @ 02:20PM ]

    Funny how the Berniebots operate:
    Anyone but Bernie says something: extrapolate worst possible meaning and point to worst possible consequences of an exaggerated form of what they're saying.

    Bernie says something in clear words like "Take Trucks off the roads" or "White people don't know what it's like to be poor" and suddenly it's all about "context" and what he "really meant."

    It's despicable.

  8. 8. James Myers [ April 17, 2016 @ 04:59AM ]

    This was a ridiculous smear of Sanders from the start, a smear aimed at the prejudices of low information voters who wont bother to do their own research. Phony right wing click-bait BS. Look, what Sanders was saying was that a large investment in modernizing and upgrading our existing rail infrastructure (creating a lot of jobs) will *indirectly* have the effect of "taking (some) trucks off the road" and thereby reducing our footprint. He's not talking about some crazy decree saying "I hearby remove trucks from the road". Bernie is the ONLY candidate that cares about working people, that wants JOBS and full employment, not more unlimited shipping jobs overseas. Let's not be dumb and vote against our economic interests because of phony attacks!

  9. 9. Robert Doll [ May 02, 2016 @ 09:14AM ]

    Its those who work for a living that pay those who don't, they tax the working class to death because we're too poor to do anything about it or fight back, we will just comply until the whole shebang goes to hell in a handbasket. What with civil forfeiture laws and theft being a legally subsidized tax revenue, we are being run out of our own country, its constitution, and are becoming slaves to our government(s), banks, and corporate interests.

  10. 10. American Truck Group [ May 30, 2016 @ 10:42AM ]

    American Truck Showroom had announced three key reasons why trucker should support Donald Trump as President of USA. As CEO of American Truck Showroom, Louis Normand stated that in conversations with working truckers, he quickly noticed that the candidate’s commitment to fair trade, job creation and entrepreneurship were common themes that resonated with truckers. The Three reasons which he gave for supporting Donald Trump are….
    1. Trump being committed to fair trade. With trade at the center of a trucker’s very existence, this will help the trucker to earn a chance of living.

    2. Trump is committed to creating jobs. Trump stands for raising every worker’s prospect.

    3. Trump is self-funded and embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that makes America great.


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Deborah Lockridge

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.


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