The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) vocally opposed passage of the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA) following a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday.
The press conference was conducted by the "Coalition Against Bigger Trucks" (CABT), which called for Congressional passage of SHIPA.
"SHIPA is simply a railroad-backed effort to legislate a greater share of the freight transportation market for the railroad industry," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "We shouldn't be surprised that such a monopolistic industry would turn to Congress to regain the business that they have lost to trucks. All of the theatrics in the world won't change the fact that trucks have successfully boosted the American economy by allowing industries to cut inventories, streamline supply chains, lower costs and improve customer service. And, we're doing it more safely than ever before."
While overall highway traffic fatalities for 2002 increased, preliminary figures issued recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate a drop in truck-involved fatalities. If the preliminary numbers remain unchanged, the 2002 truck-involved fatality toll of 4,902 -- a 3.5% decline over last year -- will mark the trucking industry's best highway safety improvement in nearly a decade and the fifth year in a row that this number has come down.
"SHIPA drives a wedge between the industries responsible for different modes of freight transportation and only serves to slow down production and increase regulations," said Graves. "In this intermodal age where the success of our economy and the transportation system depends on the ability of each mode to operate as efficiently and seamlessly as possible, the atmosphere CABT and the railroads are creating is counterproductive."
SHIPA seeks to extend federal regulatory oversight to an additional 100,000 miles of state and local roads. "This federal power grab increases regulatory burdens on states and takes state responsibilities that have been historically well-administered," Graves said.
"While Congress and the administration have worked to help stabilize and stimulate the economy, SHIPA comes at its expense, hurting farmers, ranchers, miners, manufacturers and small business owners. We encourage a constructive debate on transportation efficiencies and productivity -- a debate focused on delivering a stronger freight transportation network that will help drive a stronger economy."
ATA supports the 2002 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Special Report 267, which it says gives states more flexibility that will allow them to adopt more sensible regulations that could result in fewer accidents, less congestion, less pollution, lower highway, maintenance costs and reduced freight transportation costs.