This year, the trucking industry will push for legislation that will increase weight limits on tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers across the country. Unfortunately, heavier trucks on our highways will only increase the risk of accidents, and jeopardize the safety of motorists on the highways.
In 2015, legislators defeated an amendment that would have increased the maximum weight of tractor-trailers on highways to 91,000 pounds from the current 80,000 pounds. In fact, such proposals have been rejected several times by Congress, and with good reason.
It is a proven fact that any accident involving a massive truck weighing more than 90,000 pounds is potentially devastating to the occupants of the smaller vehicle. It’s not just the impact of the accident with a large truck that seriously jeopardizes the safety of the occupants of the smaller vehicle, but also the fact that these trucks are more difficult to maneuver, thus increasing crash risks. They are more difficult to operate, and take a much longer time to come to a complete stop after the brakes are applied. Therefore, Congress has always rejected any legislation increasing weight limits for trucks.
However, the trucking industry is using all of its lobbying muscle to push for similar legislation this year. Sponsors of the amendment that failed in 2015 are gearing up to introduce similar legislation in 2017.
This time around, Congress has access to new data that should spur legislators to reject any such advances by the trucking industry. Trucking fatalities across the country are on the increase again. In 2015, those fatalities increased by as much as 8% to a total of 4,050 fatalities over the previous year. This situation existed even though the number of trucking miles traveled increased by just a miniscule 0.3% during the same period of time. Against the backdrop of increasing truck accident fatalities, it makes no sense to allow trucks that weigh more than 80,000 pounds on our interstates.
Heavier trucks are much more cost-efficient for the trucking industry. Truckers move greater volumes of goods and cargo when weight limits are increased. Current trucking weight limits have been in place since 1982, and set 80,000 pounds as the maximum weight limit for trucks. That is already several times heavier than most passenger vehicles.
In 2015, large truck trucks and tractor-trailers were involved in as many as 27% of all fatal accidents in highway work zones, but comprise 10% of all highway traffic. The main reason for such accidents is the driver’s inability to bring the truck to a complete stop when he or she comes across vehicles that are stopped at work zones. Heavier trucks only compound these risks.
Legislators must resist efforts by the trucking industry to increase weight limits, and focus efforts on keeping Americans on highways safer.
The Atlanta trucking accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons injured in trucking accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.