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Will Larger Commercial Trucks Lead to More Truck Accidents?


The massive weight (up to 80,000 pounds and heavier), the long stopping distances, and the size differential between large, commercial trucks and smaller passenger vehicles makes accidents between the two dangerous. That is why a measure in 2015, to increase the weight limit of commercial vehicles to 91,000 lbs, was defeated in the first place.

The trucking industry, however, is bringing the idea back. Newsweek reports that “Sponsors of that failed amendment have promised to reintroduce similar legislation this year. With truck-involved fatalities on the rise — up 8 percent to 4,050 in from 2014 to 2015, even though miles traveled by trucks rose by only 0.3 percent — Congress must again say no to heavier trucks on the roads. The higher limit is being pushed by segments of the trucking industry and by shippers who would benefit from heavier loads, such as beverage makers and grain haulers.”

Not all trucking companies – or truckers – want the increase

A story on outlines the battle between the different sectors of the trucking industry, which pits the shippers of food and agricultural commodities, against an independent truckers’ trade group, which believes that bigger trucks will put too much wear and tear on an already stressed highway infrastructure. The article speaks to the efficiencies that increasing the weight limits on trucks would create, with estimates of $5.6 billion in savings in logistics expenses annually for U.S. companies.

Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told that “Increasing truck weight limits would be dangerous to all motorists.”

What are the dangers associated with an increased weight limit for big rigs?

The heavier the truck is, the long it can take to stop in the event of an emergency, or to prevent a collision. (This is especially true when going downhill.) There are also issues regarding balance; an unbalanced semi could easily tip over, spilling debris along the road or crushing other vehicles. These dangers are serious enough, but if you consider the risks associated with tankers hauling dangerous or toxic chemicals, a tip-over could be devastating.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has advocated for several safety measures aimed at lowering the rate of truck-involved traffic crashes and fatalities, many of which have been resisted by the trucking industry because of the costs involved such as electronic logging devices (ELDs) and speed limiters. The FMCSA estimates that ELDs may prevent more than 500 injuries each year, and could potentially save an estimated 26 lives each year. A recent study published by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) reported that speed-related truck crashes were reduced by 73 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology laws went into effect in Ontario, Canada.

Truck accident cases can be complicated. The experienced Oklahoma truck accident attorneys at Stipe Law Firm invite you to call and discuss your case in a free consultation and where we will offer sound guidance on next steps. You are welcome to call F:P:Site:Phone} our McAlester office or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case review today.