Recently, we told you about how limiting truck speeds is under discussion, and how limiting those speeds could provide safety benefits for those in passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, Congress seems to be intent on raising limits when it comes to large trucks—specifically, the limits on truck weights. If you’re someone who can’t help getting a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see an 80,000-pound semi bearing down on you at 70 mph, you aren’t alone. Imagine how you’ll feel with an even bigger, heavier truck overtaking your minivan.
Pushing to Expand Limits
Soon, the limits for commercial truck weights could be increasing to 91,000 pounds or greater—that’s more than 5 tons heavier than current limits. The Safer Hauling and Infrastructure Protection coalition insists that rules for truck weight are outdated, and that “modern trucks” that have higher weight limits could reduce road congestion and lower exhaust emissions, because fewer trucks would be needed on the road. They also claim that money could be saved by everyone involved.
Anheuser-Busch is leading the way on the increase of weight limits. They truck a million loads annually of beer and supplies, and have spent over a million dollars lobbying for these changes during the first three months of 2017. Anheuser-Busch wants increased weight limits to be included as a rider of federal transportation bills to be voted on this year.
Opposing Higher Limits
A group letter was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Committee by the Truck Safety Coalition, asking that higher weight limits not be made law. In their letter, they quoted current statistics, such as the deaths of 4,067 persons during 2015 in large truck crashes, pointing out that both fatalities and injuries have been rising. In 2015, 116,000 people suffered injuries in large truck crashes; the group called the numbers unacceptable and something that “would not be tolerated in any other mode of transportation.”
Not only that, the group pointed out, our roads earn a grade of “D,” meaning they are in such poor shape they are not ready to receive heavier trucks. An additional five-and-a-half tons will further damage our crumbling infrastructure.
The letter noted one alarming fact: Trucks that weigh over 80,000 pounds have a larger number of brake violations than those that weigh less. Brake violations are a chief reason for out-of-service violations. Why is that important? Trucks that have out-of-service violations are almost four times—362 percent—more likely to be in a crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in a North Carolina study.
One other interesting claim in the letter: The group asserts that, regardless of claims to the contrary, bigger and heavier trucks will not result in fewer trucks on our roads. Never have, never will.
As of this writing, it is unsure whether a bill with nationwide higher weight limits for trucks will be considered. The House’s version of the trucking changes bill does not include any amendments related to increasing the maximum weight of trucks across the U.S. The Senate included two amendments, allowing increased truck size and weight only in North Dakota (129,000 pounds) and in New Hampshire (99,000 pounds). It is important to note that, if the two bills do not agree, both the House and Senate will need to produce a unified bill, so it’s possible that truck weight limits and sizes may remain the same.
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Truck accidents can be extremely complicated both because of the large amounts of money often involved and because of the potential for multiple defendants. It is important to consult with a qualified South Carolina truck accident lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. If you’ve been in an accident with a truck, the Louthian Law Firm can help make things right. We’ll deal with the insurance companies on your behalf to help you get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, repair bills, lost income and any other financial costs that the accident caused. Where appropriate, we’ll also seek compensation on your behalf for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. With our hands-on approach, you’ll get exceptional results.