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Will Large Trucks Become Even Larger?

Imagine driving with a car full of family on an interstate when traffic suddenly slows. You need to hit the brakes hard, but you manage to stop without crashing into the vehicle in front of you. Next, imagine you see an enormous semi in your rear-view mirror bearing down on you and your loved ones. Will the truck stop in time?

There’s no denying that the heavier a truck’s load, the harder it’s going to hit you. Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion declares this to be true: the faster and heavier something is, the more forceful its impact will be. Almost four thousand people during 2015 who are no longer with us could attest to it. In that year, 3,852 persons died in crashes with large trucks, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). In fact, about 10 percent of all highway deaths involve a large truck.

Who Wants the Proposed Increase in Truck Weight Limits?

The current truck weight limit is 40 tons—that’s 80,000 pounds. The average midsized SUV weighs 16 to 18 times less than that. You can see how great the weight disparity is between the two types of vehicles. Despite this fact, some organizations want to raise the truck weight limits to 91,000 pounds at a minimum, which is over five tons heavier than at present. Among those that want to increase limits are:

  • The Safer Hauling Infrastructure Protection Coalition. They believe that the weight limits are outdated because “modern trucks” could handle the loads, meaning less road congestion, lower amounts of exhaust, and a monetary savings.
  • Anheuser-Busch, which, in the first three months of 2017, spent more than a million dollars on lobbying to effect weight limit changes.

Who Opposes Increasing the Limits?

The Truck Safety Coalition sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Committee, requesting that truck weight limits not be increased. They cited a number of statistics, including evidence that both fatalities and injuries have been rising in large truck crashes as it is, with no weight increase. Not only that, our roads and bridges are in such poor shape, earning a grade of “D,” that higher weights would cause more damage to our infrastructure. Finally, the group insisted that higher weight limits would neither decrease the number of trucks on our roads nor save money.

Also on record as opposing weight limits is the Truckload Carriers Association. They have told legislators that the increase would benefit only a small percentage of truck carriers “while forcing the rest of the industry either to divert critical resources into these new configurations or risk becoming obsolete.”

What’s the Next Step?

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have examined the issue as of this writing, and it is unclear whether truck weight limits will be increased. So far, the trucking changes bill in the House does not increase maximum weights. The Senate bill includes two amendments that will allow larger and heavier trucks in two states: New Hampshire, at 99,000 pounds, and North Dakota, at 129,000 pounds. It’s likely that a unified bill will be needed as the bills from the two chambers do not agree, so no resolution of the issue has occurred as of yet.

When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other large truck, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form.