President Barack Obama has signed into law legislation permitting the tandem towing of light- and medium-duty trailers from manufacturers to dealers throughout the United States that was a priority for the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM).
Included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (H.R. 22, the “FAST Act”), the new law will help consumers, lower freight costs, reduce highway congestion and deterioration, and cut highway-based emissions.
“The new law provides a safe, uniform national requirement for transporting light- and medium-duty trailers nationwide, decreasing the need for trailer manufacturers to transport their products to their dealers one at a time,” said Pam Trusdale, Executive Director, NATM. “The benefits are significant—reducing delivery costs and times, lowering freight costs for consumers, reducing highway congestion and deterioration, and lowering vehicle emissions.”
The provision, section 5523 of the FAST Act, permits light- and medium-duty trailer manufacturers to deliver their products to dealers in tandem combinations, subject to existing size and weight restrictions. It includes appropriate safeguards to protect the traveling public, requiring the trailers be empty and transported by only professional drivers holding commercial driver’s license (CDL) certifications.
The measure was originally adopted as part of the House-passed version of H.R. 22 after Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR-1), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS-2), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) offered it as an amendment on the House floor. The House provision was then accepted during a conference to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation.
The FAST Act also eliminates uncertainty about long-term funding for transportation projects, facilitating investments into U.S. transportation infrastructure. The increased construction that will flow from the bill will benefit the light- and medium-duty trailer sector, as more trailers are purchased to support those projects. It also will help to ensure that the nation’s highways and roadways are well-maintained, which is important to highway safety.
The light- and medium-duty trailer industry employs more than 290,000 Americans and contributes $3.5 billion per year to the nation’s economy. Hundreds of manufacturers across the country, mostly small businesses, produce various types of trailers such as livestock and cargo which are towed by end consumers behind pickup trucks. Because of the benefits of the FAST Act to the light- and medium-duty trailer industry, NATM was strongly supportive of the legislation.
“Enactment of this bill was a major victory for NATM,” said Greg Snyder, President and CEO of Car Mate Trailers, Inc., and President of the NATM Board of Directors. “The new law will improve the business environment for these manufacturers by offering delivery efficiencies and reduced costs. It will also create new business opportunities for NATM member companies.”
Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) originally introduced the tandem towing legislation, S. 1692, in the Senate on June 25, 2015. A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on that same day by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Scott
DesJarlais (R-TN-4), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), Rick Crawford (R-AR-1), Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2), David Rouzer (R-NC-7), and Lou Barletta (R-PA-11). In addition to the support from these Members, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA-9) and
Ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4) played critical roles in enactment of the tandem towing legislation as part of the FAST Act.
NATM and its members provided tremendous support for this industry initiative, making numerous trips to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress to educate them about this tandem towing issue and offering support for a transportation reauthorization bill. NATM was represented by K&L Gates LLP
in Washington, D.C. on the legislation. The National Association of Manufacturers also supported the FAST Act and the tandem towing legislation.