Congress Moves Toward More Deaths On Highways

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Will Rogers once said, "We're all ignorant, just about different things." The business of our governments is often complex and hard for regular folks to follow. Responsible elected representatives work to inform and enlighten their constituents - not to use their ignorance against them. What Congressional Democrats are doing in the name of Ecology is a perfect example of the harm our elected officials can do to us while they profess to be doing "the peoples" good. House and Senate Democrats have proposed a 40% increase in the mileage passenger cars get per gallon of fuel. They also are dictating through the back door what fuels will be used in our cars. Business week has reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a longtime protector of the auto industry, settled their differences in an agreement late Friday on the fuel economy, or CAFE, issue, clearing the way for a House vote on a broader energy bill, probably on Wednesday. Automakers would be required to meet an industry wide average of 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks, including SUVs, by 2020, the first increase by Congress in car fuel efficiency in 32 years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called the compromise "good news" and said he hoped to take up the legislation quickly after the House acts. Dingell said the tougher standards are "both aggressive and attainable" and include provisions that give manufacturers the needed flexibility to bring SUVs and small trucks under compliance and to avoid job losses. "We have achieved consensus on several provisions that provide critical environmental safeguards without jeopardizing American jobs," said Dingell in a statement. Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that the tougher CAFE requirements "will serve as the cornerstone" of the energy bill, which also is expected to require a sharp increase in ethanol use as a motor fuel and require nonpublic electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources such as wind or solar energy. The amount of ethanol required to be used as a motor fuel would be ramped up to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022, a sevenfold increase over today's production. No where in their legislation will be the same kind of attack on large trucks, that they are aiming directly at the "individual" motorist.. They are too wedded to the Teamsters Union politically to include the greatest threat to our safety on the highway in their legislation. Nancy Pelosi "crows" that this legislation is for the attack on global warming. She said: "It is a major milestone and the first concrete legislation to address global warming," declared Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who was involved in the discussion with House Democrats as the agreement with Dingell was worked out. Not a mention of preserving the precious life-blood of our Capitalist system ,oil. She is doing this at our peril to satisfy her constituents who worship at the false idol of Conservation! No consideration for the safety of those who drive these new vehicles is mentioned. The only way we have come to today's mandated mileage per gallon is to strip automobiles of the steel that once protected them and replace it with fiberglass and plastics. Thus making us more vulnerable to the behemoths of the highway, semi-trailer trucks. Over 40,000 Americans die each year on our nation's roadways - a price quietly accepted by most of us. ("Only" about 58,000 Americans died in the entire Vietnam war and that brought out riots in the streets.) Aside from the fatherless or motherless children - or the grieving parents - or entire families wiped out in seconds, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported a few years back that its research revealed that the monetary cost, alone, of deaths on American highways exceeds the national debt each year. Trucks, including tractor-trailers, single-unit trucks, and certain heavy cargo vans with gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds - account for a disproportionate share of traffic deaths based on miles traveled. The fatal crash rate for large trucks is 2.4 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled - more than 50 percent greater than the rate for all vehicles on the roads. People in passenger vehicles are especially vulnerable in collisions with large trucks because of the great difference in weight between cars and large tucks. In two-vehicle crashes involving passenger vehicles and large trucks, 98 percent of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicle. Overweight trucks are even more dangerous than trucks that stay within the current federal weight limits. Overweight trucks not only take longer to brake and are more prone to roll over in crashes, but they also damage roads and bridges at rapidly increasing rates even when slightly overloaded. Most of the fatal crashes involving large trucks occur in rural areas (67 percent), during the day (69 percent) and on weekdays (80 percent). (NHTSA, 2001) Ninety-eight percent of people killed in two-vehicle crashes involving passenger vehicles and a large truck in 1999 were the occupants of the passenger vehicle. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, 2000) In 2001, there were 483 fatalities in Texas, 376 in California, 85 in Arizona, and 60 in New Mexico caused by large truck crashes. (NHTSA, 2001). How much longer are we Americans going to allow those elected officials in Washington to continue to work for special interests and not the good of those of us who elected them? Time to throw them all out!

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