A federal law that would increase weight and size limits for large commercial trucks is being opposed not only by road safety advocates but also by trucking professionals.
Our Tuscaloosa truck accident lawyers understand that members with the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, are urging lawmakers to reject HR612, which would allow bigger, heavier trucks on the highway. The trucking association said there is no reason to extend the limits beyond the current threshold.
When Congress passed its two-year highway bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (or MAP-21), members rejected a clause that would have boosted size limits for tractor-trailers. It did however call for comprehensive research to be conducted concerning the effect of truck weight and size on freeway infrastructure, safety and the overall economy.
As it stands today, the weight limit on large trucks is 80,000 pounds. HR612, introduced by U.S. Representatives in Wisconsin and Maine, would allow for the maximum gross weight on six-axle vehicles to be increased to 97,000 pounds. It’s unsurprising that the move has the support of deep-pocketed shipping industries and the American Trucking Association. The more weight they can carry in a given load, the more money they can make.
It’s also to be expected that AAA, a group with a core mission of road safety, would object to such a measure. After all, we must consider that with larger trucks, the number of fatalities is going to rise. It’s a matter of physics. As it already stands, some 5,000 people are killed annually in car-truck crashes in the U.S. It’s a known fact that overloaded vehicles are a major contributing factor in many of these instances. We also know that one out of every five large commercial trucks on the road today is in an unsafe, out-of-service condition. So, when we add to the weight limit these vehicles are allowed to carry, inevitably, the fatality rate is going to soar.
What is encouraging is that OOIDA, representing about 150,000 trucking industry members, opposes the bill. In testifying recently before Congress, OOIDA members said they are not pencil-pushers who see the effects of these policy decisions from behind a desk. Rather, they will be viewing them from the highway, where the safety of their personnel is potentially imperiled.
Not only that, but they anticipate they will lose money by being pushed out of business by larger shippers better able to afford to purchase larger trailers. The agency said more than 95 percent of carriers operate a fleet of 20 or fewer trucks.
The disparity would be further pronounced by the fact that the changes would not be uniform. States would have the option of adopting the measures. States that do adopt the heavier gross weight limits would be forcing smaller trucking agencies to buy larger vehicles if they want to compete and stay in business – even as those companies recognize the safety and economic risks.
Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no, June 6, 2013, By David Tanner Land Line
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