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Truck Accident Lawyers, Local Officials Say No to Bigger Trucks

Bigger Trucks Threaten Public Safety and Infrastructure

car accident truck accidentBigger Trucks: Bad For America’s Local Communities,” a letter written by over 1,000 local government leaders, was presented to Congressional Capitol Hill offices on February 22, 2018.  The letter, signed by mayors, local engineers and public works employees, argues that “Longer and heavier trucks would cause significantly more damage to our transportation infrastructure, costing us billions of dollars that local government budgets simply cannot afford, compromising the very routes that American motorists use every day.” Currently, federal limits are 80,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight.  Notably, some states allow heavier trucks on roads that are not a part of the interstate system.

According to the Washington Post, one 40-ton truck can do as much damage to a road as 9,600 cars.  And the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks cites a US Department of Transportation study stating that increasing truck weight to 91,000 pounds  “would negatively affect more than 4,800 bridges, incurring up to $1.1 billion in additional federal investment.”  Not only do trucks take a toll on major roads, but because these trucks load and unload their cargo on secondary and tertiary roads, the infrastructure of these local roads are also negatively impacted.

Longer, Heavier Trucks Lead to Deadly Truck Accidents

In addition to the infrastructure concerns, a bigger concern is the general safety of the public.   A fully loaded 80,000 pound tractor trailer going 65 mph needs approximately 525 feet to come to a full stop. This is roughly the length of one and one half football fields.  And this assumes dry road conditions.   According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a total of 3,896 people died in large truck accidents in 2016.  Seventeen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 66 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles and the remainder were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.  Furthermore, 97 percent of vehicle occupants killed in accidents in 2016 involving a large truck were occupants of passenger vehicles. Adding extra length and weight to these already-massive vehicles increases their capacity to cause deadly harm in the event of an accident.

The argument against bigger trucks faces opposition from many of the manufacturers requesting heavier trucks.  According to Trucks.com, a May 2017 letter written to Congress by a coalition of 80 agricultural groups and shippers, asked to establish a 15 year pilot program to study increasing the maximum weight of trucks currently on the roads from a gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds in most states, to 91,000 pounds.  The coalition further suggests that big rigs would be expanded to 6 axles and 22 wheels from the current maximum of 5 axle and 18 wheels. Notably, a similar request the “SAFE Trucking Act”, introduced by Rep. Reid Ribble, was defeated in the House in 2015.

The statistics speak for themselves.  While larger trucks may be desirable to manufacturers in order to improve their bottom lines, they must not be allowed on our roads.  Even at their current maximum weight of 80,000 pounds, these large trucks are a hazard to drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles and cause a significant amount of damage to our country’s infrastructure.   Congress already voted these larger trucks down once.  Our truck accident lawyers hope that they continue to protect not only our infrastructure but more importantly, our lives.

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