You may not have heard, but you should definitely know – this week is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, a time to celebrate and thank all the hardworking trucker drivers out there all across America. Driving a truck is no easy task – these men and women spend long hours away from their homes and families making the freight deliveries for businesses and consumers that keep our economy moving.
This year, the need to support our truckers is all the more evident, as the country is facing a serious nationwide trucker shortage that is putting significant strain on the trucking industry and causing ripple effects across the economy.
According to the Washington Post, “America had a shortage of 51,000 truck drivers at the end of last year [. . . ] up from a shortage of 36,000 in 2016.” What’s worse is that this shortage comes at a time when sales from e-commerce continue to soar beyond already record highs. Greater demand on trucking companies, when coupled with a historic shortage of truckers means one thing: higher shipping costs on anything that spends time in a truck (so, just about everything we buy).
This may seem hopeless, but thankfully, shipping and freight transportation companies have come up with a innovative solution that can help relieve some of the pressure caused by the trucker shortage, boost shipping efficiency, and help drive down shipping costs for all of us. It’s called the Twin 33.
Twin 33s are tractor trailer rigs that include two 33-foot-long trailers connected, as opposed to the more commonly seen single, longer trailer. This simple addition of five feet to each trailer would allow much more room for lightweight packages (e.g. amazon orders) in one delivery, while maintaining existing weight limits. This means fewer trucks, and truck drivers, are needed to keep up with demand. Fewer trucks on the road mean we require fewer trips to deliver more goods, and less stress on drivers, which helps to resolve the shortage of drivers and the assorted problems associated with it.
Not to mention, this takes a lot of intense pressure off of our current truckers who struggle to keep up with increasing demands for shipments.
So why, then, aren’t Twin 33s being used across the country already? Unsurprisingly, it’s the government’s fault.
Currently, there’s a 35-year-old regulation mandating that this class of tandem trailer cannot be longer than 28 feet. A few states have taken the initiative and legalized Twin 33s already, but this only goes so far, because shipping companies need to deliver goods across the country. So unless the national prohibition is lifted, the use of Twin 33s, and the benefits that they can bring, won’t get off the ground.
Right now, Congress is working through this year’s budget appropriations process, and the Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee, led by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) has the opportunity to include Twin 33 legalization in the appropriations bill.
Allowing Twin 33s nationwide is a simple way to promote free market innovation, help businesses thrive, and help relieve the trucker shortage – all without raising a single dime in taxes.
Truckers go to work every day to deliver for us the products we want and need. This National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, I think we should all put in some miles for our truckers, and call on Congress to allow Twin 33s nationwide.
Katlyn Batts is the Chairwoman of the Wingate University College Republicans and an employee of the Jesse Helms Center.