has insufficient inspection stations to inspect all the vehicles which would have to be inspected under the law.
The complaint was filed on August 18, 1980 asking for injunctive relief and for a judgment declaring unconstitutional section 4703(a)(2) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4703(a)(2) as amended. At the same time Plaintiffs asked for a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order enjoining the enforcement of the section in question.
After hearing, the temporary restraining order was granted and on September 2, Steamship Operators Intermodal Committee was permitted to intervene.
Beginning on September 8 a four-day hearing was held on the request for a preliminary injunction, the trial on the merits having been advanced and consolidated with this hearing. The preliminary injunction was granted at the end of the hearing on September 12, and November 3 was the date fixed for further hearing on the merits.
After five days of further hearings, the studying of briefs and oral argument and the full consideration of all of the facts and the law relative thereto, the court concludes and its judgment is that 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4703(a)(2) imposes an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce and accordingly a declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction against the enforcement of 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4703(a)(2) will issue.
II. FINDINGS OF FACT
Pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4703(a)(2), all motor carrier vehicles operating on Pennsylvania highways must display a currently valid certificate of inspection.
This certificate can be obtained through compliance with the inspection laws of Pennsylvania or another state.
Although considerable controversy existed concerning which states have inspection programs that would fulfill the requirements of the statute, the evidence demonstrated that 25 states and the District of Columbia have some type of periodic inspection program.
Six of these states, however, exempt interstate motor carrier vehicles subject to regulation by the Federal Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety ("BMCS") from the requirements of that state's inspection law.
Several other states have atypical inspection procedures, such as New Jersey, which requires inspection for registration,
or Maryland, which requires inspection only in the event of retitling with an undated certificate of inspection given upon request.
None of these states, however, require inspection of vehicles registered in another state. Regardless of these inspection programs as they now exist, approximately 231,000 tractors and 700,000 trailers, including chassis owned by members of SOIC, are currently not required to be inspected by any state, and thus, if operated in Pennsylvania would be subject to the Pennsylvania inspection scheme.
The purported purpose of this inspection provision is to improve highway safety in Pennsylvania.
The Commonwealth's inspection program for motor carrier vehicles includes a periodic verification of the vehicle's registration and an inspection of the vehicle's brakes, tires, wheels, glazing, mirrors, operating controls, lighting, body, sheet metal, and the suspension, steering, fuel, exhaust and electrical systems.
In selective and random highway checks conducted by the Federal Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of commercial interstate vehicles, between 40 and 60 percent of such vehicles were found hazardous and placed out of service.
Yet, during 1979, only 8.80 percent of the motor carrier vehicles involved in accidents had a vehicle failure cited as a contributing cause.
Thus, no relationship is shown to exist between mechanical defects in vehicles and accidents caused by such vehicles.
Similar evidence demonstrates that tractor-trailer combinations from non-inspecting states did not have a statistically disproportionate percentage of accidents than tractor-trailer combinations registered in inspection states. Although 45.48 percent of all tractors were registered in inspection states, they accounted for 43.84 percent of the fatal accidents in 1979 involving tractor-trailers. Likewise, while 40.66 percent of all tractors were registered in non-inspection states, 37.94 percent of the fatal accidents in 1979 involved such tractor-trailers. Only tractors from states with an interstate inspection exception exceeded their proportion of the tractor population with 13.86 percent of tractor registrations but 18.22 percent of all fatal accidents.
This evidence also suggests that no correlation exists between mandatory periodical inspections and highway safety.
Indeed, semiannual or annual inspections of high mileage vehicles such as motor carrier vehicles are insufficient to discover and correct mechanical defects. Trucking companies would have to continue in-house inspections.
Such inspections might consist of the mandatory systematic inspection, repair and maintenance of all motor vehicles subject to BMCS control. Under BMCS regulations, every motor carrier must require its drivers to prepare a report at the completion of each day's work with the vehicle covering at least the following parts and accessories: service brakes, including trailer brake connections; parking (hand) brakes; steering mechanism; lighting devices and reflectors; tires; horn; windshield wipers; rear vision mirrors; coupling devices; wheels and rims; and emergency equipment. 49 C.F.R. § 396.11. Any defects or deficiencies affecting the safety of operation of the motor vehicle or resulting in its mechanical breakdown must be reported by the driver. Before the motor carrier vehicle may be operated again, any such defects or deficiencies must be repaired and a certification to that effect submitted. Id. § 396.11(c). Before a driver takes out a motor carrier vehicle, he must under § 396.13 visually inspect it, satisfy himself that it is in safe operating condition, review the most recent inspection report carried on the vehicle, and sign the report only if he finds a certification that any safety-related defects or deficiencies have been repaired.
Although BMCS imposes no mandatory inspection interval, motor carriers typically inspect their vehicles from 4 to 12 times per year depending upon vehicle usage, region of the country, and other factors that differ for each motor carrier vehicle.
The reason that semiannual inspections are inadequate to improve highway safety is because of the processes of deterioration and failure which affect the structural and mechanical components of all motor carrier vehicles. The deterioration and failure of these vehicles occurs slowly and progressively, without predictability of when a mechanical failure might occur.
An inspection, however, will only detect the condition of the vehicle at the time the inspection is made.
Thus, such inspections do not lead to a reduction in accidents caused by mechanical failures.
ATA and SOIC demonstrated that the Pennsylvania law places substantial burdens on interstate commerce. Section 4703(a)(2) requires the trucking and containerized shipping industries to make a choice among various alternatives, including (1) inspection of their vehicles in Pennsylvania, (2) inspection of their vehicles in another inspection state, or (3) diverting motor carrier vehicles around Pennsylvania. Any of these methods of complying with the law imposes substantial costs and delays upon interstate and foreign commerce.
If these companies choose either the first or second method, they will incur considerable costs and delays associated with the inspections. The average tractor inspection takes at least ninety minutes and the average trailer or semi-trailer inspection about thirty minutes.
The cost for each inspection of a semi-trailer at an official inspection station ranges from $ 12.00 to $ 18.00.
There also would be further costs connected with drivers' salaries and additional fuel consumption while taking motor carrier vehicles to an inspection station, waiting during the inspection, and returning the vehicle to the owners' place of business or back to its intended course of travel.
Although many vehicles would probably be inspected outside of Pennsylvania, it is clear that owners of such vehicles cannot identify every vehicle that will travel through Pennsylvania. This results from several factors. First, tractors and trailers are not "wed" together. Instead, tractors and trailers are randomly and frequently interchanged and are rarely combined for more than one or two consecutive movements at a time.
Second, many commercial and industrial businesses have begun to use trucks as "rolling warehouses" or "inventory in motion."
In most instances, Coastal Tank Lines will receive its order to transport goods only a day in advance in which time it must pick up, transport, and deliver the load.
Similarly, automobile assembly plants, such as the Volkswagen plant in New Stanton, Pennsylvania, maintain a very limited supply of parts on hand. This reduction in inventory requires truckers to deliver parts precisely when they are needed. A failure to deliver these parts on time could lead to shutdowns of the production line at a cost of $ 6,000 per minute.
Finally, the growth of the containerized cargo industry has made it difficult to determine which vehicles will move through particular states.
Thus, companies engaged in trucking and shipping cannot predetermine which vehicles must be inspected.
Furthermore, if drivers take such uninspected vehicles through Pennsylvania, it will often be late at night when interstate motor carriers travel. At these times, many inspection stations will not be open.
Even if a driver can find an inspection station, perishable items may be damaged because of the delay required by inspection.
Instead of getting an inspection, the trucking industry could choose to circumvent Pennsylvania. The costs of this choice are enormous in terms of additional time and fuel consumption. CRST, for example, estimated its additional costs for discontinuing usage of three routes through Pennsylvania that it currently utilizes: Interstate 80, Interstate 70, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The additional difference in miles from Akron, Ohio to New York City not using I-80 is 210 miles, the difference from Akron to Philadelphia and New Jersey not using the Pennsylvania Turnpike is 160 miles, and the difference from Akron to Maryland not using I-70 is 76 miles. The additional fuel required per load from Akron to New York City would be 41.2 gallons; to Philadelphia, 31.4 gallons; to Maryland, 14.9 gallons. The trip from Akron to New York City would take 4.6 hours longer at 45 mph; to Philadelphia, 3.6 hours longer; to Maryland, 1.7 hours longer. Increased costs per load on refrigerated trailers to New York City would be $ 179.55; to Philadelphia, $ 136.80; to Maryland, $ 64.98. On flatbed operations, they are $ 170.52, $ 129.92, and $ 61.72, respectively.
1. The Commerce Clause
Although the Commerce Clause is recognized as both a source of congressional power
and a limitation on states' authority even when Congress has not acted, the extent to which the Clause prevents states from erecting barriers to interstate commerce is the subject of considerable controversy, particularly in the area of highway safety legislation. It is true that the Commerce Clause does not prevent states from enacting nondiscriminatory legislation designed to serve legitimate state interests even though it affects the flow of interstate commerce. Nevertheless, "in areas where activities of legitimate local concern overlap with the national interests expressed by the Commerce Clause where local and national powers are concurrent the Court in the absence of congressional guidance is called upon to make "delicate adjustment of the conflicting state and federal claims,' H. P. Hood & Sons, Inc. v. Du Mond, 336 U.S. 525, at 553, 69 S. Ct. 657, 679, 93 L. Ed. 865 (Black, J., dissenting), thereby attempting "the necessary accommodation between local needs and the overriding requirement of freedom for the national commerce.' Freeman v. Hewit, 329 U.S. 249, at 253, (67 S. Ct. 274, 277, 91 L. Ed. 265)." A & P Tea Co. v. Cottrell, 424 U.S. 366, 371, 96 S. Ct. 923, 928, 47 L. Ed. 2d 55 (1976). The current controversy centers upon the degree to which courts should make this "delicate adjustment," which has also been referred to as a "sensitive consideration." The nature of this problem is apparent in two recent decisions by the Supreme Court, Raymond Motor Transportation, Inc. v. Rice, 434 U.S. 429, 98 S. Ct. 787, 54 L. Ed. 2d 664 (1978) and Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corp., 450 U.S. 662, 101 S. Ct. 1309, 67 L. Ed. 2d 580 (1981), both of which questioned the constitutionality of state limitations on truck lengths.
Raymond involved a challenge to Wisconsin's administrative regulations governing the length and configuration of trucks that may be operated on Wisconsin highways. The regulations limited the overall length of a tractor pulling a single trailer to 55 feet. All single trailer units ("singles") longer than 55 feet and all tractors pulling more than one trailer ("doubles") were prohibited from operating on the highway without a permit. These regulations, however, had numerous exceptions which permitted the use of many vehicles over 55 feet, in fact to lengths up to 100 feet. While the trucking companies introduced much evidence indicating that 65-foot doubles were as safe as 55-foot singles, Wisconsin made no effort to contradict this evidence of comparative safety.
Although the Supreme Court rendered a unanimous decision, the Justices were evenly divided
with respect to the approach courts should use in Commerce Clause cases. In the Court's opinion, written by Justice Powell, the Court maintained that the inquiry regarding permissible and impermissible impacts on interstate commerce "necessarily involves a sensitive consideration of the weight and nature of the state regulatory concern in light of the extent of the burden imposed on the course of interstate commerce." 434 U.S. at 441, 98 S. Ct. at 794. This sensitive consideration required a weighing approach similar to the one advanced in Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S. 137, 142, 90 S. Ct. 844, 847, 25 L. Ed. 2d 174 (1970) ("Where the statute regulates evenhandedly to effectuate a legitimate local public interest, and its effects on interstate commerce are only incidental, it will be upheld unless the burden imposed on such commerce is clearly excessive in relation to the putative local benefits."). While state regulations promoting highway safety have a "strong presumption of validity," Bibb v. Navajo Freight Lines, Inc., 359 U.S. 520, 524, 79 S. Ct. 962, 965, 3 L. Ed. 2d 1003 (1959), Wisconsin had "virtually defaulted in its defense of the regulations as a safety measure." Raymond, supra, 434 U.S. at 444, 98 S. Ct. at 795. Therefore, the Court was "persuaded that the challenged regulations violate the Commerce Clause because they place a substantial burden on interstate commerce and they cannot be said to make more than the most speculative contribution to highway safety." Id. at 447, 98 S. Ct. at 797.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Blackmun, however, emphasized the narrow scope of the Raymond decision. Justice Blackmun specifically rejected any attempt to balance or weigh legitimate safety justifications against the burden on interstate commerce. Rather, he maintained that the Court should restrict its analysis to whether the purported safety interest actually existed.
In other words, if safety justifications are not illusory, the Court will not second-guess legislative judgment about their importance in comparison with related burdens on interstate commerce .... Here, the Court does not engage in a balance of policies; it does not make a legislative choice. Instead, after searching the factual record developed by the parties, it concludes that the safety interests have not been shown to exist as a matter of law.
434 U.S. at 449-50, 98 S. Ct. at 798 (Blackmun, J., concurring).
The dust had barely settled in Raymond, when Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware initiated an action to have Iowa's 60-foot limitation on doubles declared unconstitutional as it applied to certain interstate highways, access routes to Consolidated's terminals, and reasonable access to facilities for food, fuel, repairs or rest. Unlike the defendants in Raymond, Iowa attempted to seriously support the safety justifications of the 60-foot maximum on doubles. The district court, however, found:
Twins and semis have different characteristics. Twins are more maneuverable, are less sensitive to wind, and create less splash and spray. However, they are more likely than semis to jackknife or upset. They can be backed only for a short distance. The negative characteristics are not such that they render the twin less safe than semis overall. Semis are more stable but are more likely to "rear end" another vehicle.
The added length of the twin is not a substantial factor on four lane divided highways. The state by legalizing the 65 foot automobile carrier has weakened its claim that the extra length creates a safety hazard. It has practically destroyed its argument that double trailers are an additional safety hazard by legalizing the 60 foot twin. The uncontradicted evidence established that the extra five feet in length makes the 65 foot twin more stable than the 60 foot twin.