- June 22 - Public Citizen and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways
(CRASH) released a study at a press conference today detailing the trucking
industrys political contributions and lobbying expenses. Four children who
lost family members in truck crashes spoke at the conference and called for greater
regulation of the industry and improved safety standards.
The report, Truckloads
of Money for Congress, shows that between 1993 and 1998 the trucking industry
spent almost $14 million in political contributions and over $15 million in lobbying
expenses (not counting grassroots activity), years which coincided with marked
Congressional inaction on truck safety standards.
"The more money they
give, the less theyre regulated. Its Congressional protection money
-- you pay them to leave you alone," said Joan Claybrook, President of Public
Citizen. "There are so many deaths and injuries because the trucking industry
has used its influence to secure legislative exemptions from existing safety requirements,
to block legislation to improve truck safety, to prevent any increase in fuel
taxes, and to stop proper Congressional oversight of the OMC."
The study found that since
1993 the industry gave almost $14 million in political action committee donations,
individual contributions, and unregulated soft money to the national political
parties. Pennsylvania Republican Bud Shuster, who chairs the powerful House Transportation
and Infrastructure Committee, took $145,400 from the trucking industry over the
last six years. He is the largest single recipient of trucking industry money.
Members of his committee
each received, on average, $21,783 from trucking industry PACs during the six
years studied -- 73 percent more than the average $12,586 received by all other
"Over 140,000 American
families experienced the bloody trauma of a heavy truck crash in 1998," said
Michael J. Scippa, Executive Director of CRASH. "Trucking lobby dollars are
turning the highways scarlet."
Some of the children participating
in CRASHs Sorrow to Strength conference in Washington, D.C., spoke out for
proper regulation of the industry. "My dad was one of over 5,000 people killed
in a heavy truck crash in 1997 when a big rig truck ran a stop sign and hit his
car," said 13-year-old Ryan Hensley from Ohio. "Too many politicians
take a lot of money from the trucking industry. What does the industry expect
to get in return? Heavier trucks? Fewer safety inspections? More hours behind
the wheel for tired truck drivers?"
Katie Ettredge, a ninth-grader
from Pilot Point in Texas, told how her brother Daniel was killed in a truck crash
in September 1997. "Im here to help tell and show the government that
too many families are hurt because of these large trucks," she said. "I
think the government can change things to help save others from the pain Ive
Last year more than 5,300
people died in crashes involving large trucks -- an average of more than 100 per
week -- and another 141,000 were injured. It is estimated that deaths will rise
to 6,000 in 2000. But the OMC has done little or nothing to stem the highway carnage.
The study found that the
industry spent over $8 million in PAC contributions, over $2 million in the form
of individual contributions and over $3.7 million in soft money to the political