Jul 2013

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Increasing Weight & Size Limits

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyLawmakers in Congress are eager to expand the size of commercial trucks, with proposals suggesting that the size limits increase from 80,000 pounds on five axles to 97,000 pounds on six axles. Congress has also asked the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a study on the impact of proposed changes to size and weight limits on commercial vehicles.

Our Fall River accident lawyers know that larger trucks may be more dangerous to operate and may be more likely to be involved in serious accidents. Recently, Landline Mag reported that the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) has also spoken out against increases in the size of trucks, cautioning about potential dangers associated with larger vehicles as well as about the potential problems these trucks could experience on the aging infrastructure throughout the United States.

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Weight-Limited Increases

OOIDA  is a professional organization that has as many as 150,000 members. OOIDA has a long history of fighting against proposed increases in truck size and weight limits. In fact, OOIDA along with three of its members recently submitted statements to the Federal Highway Administration expressing concerns.

OOIDA cautions that an increase in truck size would have significant costs, which would be passed on to small-business truckers. OOIDA also expressed concern that that roads and bridges in the United States are not built for such massive and oversize trucks. In fact, much of the infrastructure in the United States was built even before 53-foot trailers became the norm. If the size of trucks is increased even further, then trucks could be forced to change their routes or travel on roads that they are not able to safely traverse.

In addition to the concerns about cost and safe passage on the roadways, OOIDA has also warned that there could be serious highway safety issues associated with making trucks even bigger. As a statement from three seasoned drivers with more than 70 years of experience indicated, “Any seasoned driver will tell you that extra weight means extra responsibility and a reduced margin for errors.”

The statement was made in response to the FHWA’s request for public comments that is part of a widespread study related to the impact of changes to trucking laws. The FHWA was instructed by Congress to conduct the study when Congress passed a law called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21.  The survey is expected to be completed and delivered to congress by 2014.

The Safety Risks of Large Trucks

Large trucks already present certain safety risks as a result of their size. Their large size and heavy weight results in a long stopping distance because the vehicles have so much momentum. Furthermore, the fact that trucks significantly outweigh passenger vehicles creates a situation where drivers of passenger cars are often seriously hurt or killed when a truck crash happens. Finally, the size of the trucks results in the vehicles having large blind spots.

Making trucks bigger will only exacerbate these issues. It is very important that FHWA take into account the safety risks and the concerns of commercial truckers when advising Congress on whether the size of trucks should be increased.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough, and Fall River, Mass.

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