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.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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