On May 29, 2013, the Federal Highway Administration held listening sessions on the topic of increasing the weight limit that commercial trucks can haul. While many trucking company owners support the idea of increasing weight limits for trucks, a number of drivers vigorously oppose raising weight limits for trucking because of the threat to everyone's safety on the roads.
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century
Federal law currently limits the amount that commercial vehicles can haul to 80,000 pounds. When Congress was debating the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, a comprehensive transportation bill passed in 2012, legislators ended up removing a provision that would increase the allowable weight limit. Lawmakers felt they did not have enough information about the ramifications of having heavier trucks on U.S. roads, so they inserted a provision in MAP-21 requiring the FHWA to conduct a study of the issue. The May 29 listening session was held as part of that study.
In April 2013, a member of Congress proposed the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, which would increase trucks' weight limits from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds, even though the FHWA will not complete its study and report to Congress until the fall of 2014.
Dangers of larger trucks
At the May 29th listening session, representatives from the Owner Operator Independent Drivers' Association, a trade association comprised of over 150,000 independent truck drivers, voiced serious concerns about the idea of heavier trucks. They pointed to numerous safety concerns that would arise if the weight limit for trucks rose. Much of the infrastructure in the U.S could not withstand heavier loads. States across the country would have to renovate bridges to make them strong enough to withstand 97,000 pound loads – or face bridge collapses. Heavier trucks also mean increased wear on roads, creating potentially hazardous driving conditions for all drivers.
The OOID members also pointed out that drivers need to be more careful with heavier loads. Braking distance, speed around curves and turns and driving in inclement conditions all change when loads are heavier. Even experienced drivers have difficulties controlling larger loads, which places all drivers on the road in danger because of the greater likelihood of trucking accidents.
Talk to an attorney
Sharing the road with large commercial vehicles can be risky for those in small passenger vehicles. The differences in size and weight between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles means that those in passenger vehicles are overwhelmingly more often the ones to suffer injuries in trucking accidents – and those injuries are usually severe. If you have been injured in a truck accident, seek the help of a skilled truck accident attorney with experience handling the complexities associated with these cases.