Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lying and Lying Boldly

The Cap Times printed an AP story yesterday on the 2005 federal legislation, which is set to go into effect this week, to extend the allowable length of trucks from 75 to 97 feet.

Plain old logic would tell most people that this move wasn't done with safety in mind. Money, of course, is the true culprit: bigger profits for the trucking companies and bigger campaign donations for the politicians.

But here's the section of the article on Rep. Jim Oberstar's (D-Minn) decision to back the legislation in his role as ranking member of the House Transportation Committee:

A spokesman for Oberstar, who is now chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said that the congressman supported the amendment after looking into it and determining the new rules would be safe.

"Jim has traditionally been concerned about longer vehicles," said the spokesman, John Schadl. "He took a long look at this and had to be reassured before he would allow it."

So Oberstar looked into it before voting and determined that safety wouldn't be harmed by allowing trucks one-third the size of a football field on the road in spite of the fact that his initial reaction told him otherwise. *I'd say* that's a lie.

Now observe the section of the article on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Janesville) decision to back the legislation:
[Ryan] said that he and several colleagues decided to write the letter to the committee in 2005 because they believed the change would be good public policy. Ryan argued that it will improve safety and reduce fuel consumption.
So not only would the legislation not harm safety, Ryan claimed that increasing the length of trucks by 30 percent would improve safety on the roads. *I'd say* that, my friends, is a bold lie.

Come on, Oberstar. You gotta own your deceit if you want to roll with the big boys.

------------------

UPDATE
: See the comments for an explanation of the *I'd say* additions.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Dad29 said...

Of course, you can demonstrate that both these men are LYING about the safety, right?

You understand that there are two questions, right? 1) You have to demonstrate that these men KNEW that they were not safe but said so anyway; and 2) You have to demonstrate (cites, please, and not just from the Teamsters' Union) that the 100' trailers are "less safe" than the current standard.

OK. Now go to it.

Otherwise, I'll simply maintain that YOU lie in your post.

See how easy that is?

March 21, 2007  
Blogger M.Z. Forrest said...

To further my anachronistic reputation here, let me add that we should move back to the last mile delivery being on 1 ton axles. These 100' trailers are going to be great in our cities. (sarcasm) The public infrastructure already expended to support our current semi-traffic is outrageous, but we can't let anything get in the way of subsidizing free trade. Of course these 100' trailers are going to primarily benefit the Wal-Marts of the world that actually purchase by the trailer load, pushing more people onto our medical welfare doles. Laizze faire, the gift that keeps on giving.

March 21, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Dad29,

Your standard for saying someone isn't telling the truth is quite high. Do you also apply that same standard to Troha's donations to Doyle? I didn't hear any objections from you when I wrote on this blog that I didn't believe the Doyle campaign when it said it didn't know all of the Troha clan donations really came from Papa Troha. Did you say anything to Sykes, Belling, Owen, or other conservative talkers when they said Doyle wasn't telling the truth about Troha (or Georgia Thompson, or any of the other charges thrown at him)?

I certainly can't prove that the Doyle camp knew the origin of the donations, but it seems pretty clear to me -- and I'm guessing you, too -- that it did. If anyone could prove this, Doyle -- or some high up in his camp -- would be prosecuted. And if anyone could prove that Oberstar or Ryan supported a bill in exchange for campaign donations, they would be prosecuted, too (at this point the case is being investigated by federal authorities, but my guess is it'll go nowhere).

On to your second question, most of my concern over the safety of 97 foot vehicles where four separate trucks are linked together as one is just plain old intuition. I think it stands to reason that the larger a vehicle is, especially when it involves multiple parts that aren't all under the direct control of the operator, the more difficult it is to handle. And the more difficult a vehicle is to handle, the less safe that vehicle is on the road.

And I'm curious to hear why you won't accept driver testimony against the safety of these trucks as evidence that they're unsafe. I assume that's your objection to me citing the Teamsters' Union for evidence. Why wouldn't you listen to the people who are actually supposed to operate the 97-foot trucks?

As it happens, a number of veteran truck drivers testified against the use of these 97-foot "four-way" trucks when the Federal Highway Administration was considering the change. One said: "The notion that a saddlemount load, 97 feet long and consisting of four semi tractors, is safe is absurd. All four-way configurations have the tendency to cause the fourth truck to whip and sway to a certain degree. It can quickly become a very dangerous situation." Another said: "While driving these setups, the rear truck is unstable and wanders excessively from side to side. This type of setup is a danger to the motoring public and to myself." Another said: "The general public doesn't realize what a risk these trucks are. These combinations have a tendency to sway, making them extremely hard to control and extremely dangerous." Why do you suppose these drivers and others objected if not truly for safety reasons? Just out of spite? What else did they have to gain or lose?

But, in case you're looking for a second opinion, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials told the FHA that the new size limitation "has raised serious concerns among some state enforcement officials concerning possible safety and infrastructure issues."

You can find all of the above quotes here. Dan Bice also discussed them in the JS a few days ago. In addition, Bice notes that Troha's trucking firm "will profit the most from the change because its subsidiaries have a near-monopoly on the business of hauling new heavy-duty trucks from the manufacturer." I'm sure it was just a coincidence that Troha gave over $100,000 combined to the top two pols on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who were the ones that inserted the provision into a huge highway reauthorization bill, and Ryan who sent two letters requesting the inclusion.

But if I see any reasonable evidence that says extending the length of a truck by 30% to 97 feet makes that truck more safe to drive, which is what Ryan argued, then I'll gladly retract my statement that he was being deceitful with that comment. In everything I read getting the info above, I didn't see a thing from anyone about safety being improved -- only profits.

March 21, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

For the sake of clarity, Dad29, I just updated the post to reflect that my accusations were based on what I think, not what I know.

March 21, 2007  

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