Trucking Safety Advocates Balk at Proposal for Bigger Rigs | KNR
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Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
May 8, 2015

They are the biggest things rolling out on Akron’s I-76 and I-77. And once big rigs get going, they can be difficult to stop quickly or safely.

18-wheelers can already weigh up to 80,000 pounds and be 80-feet-long. Now there’s a proposal in Congress to allow the vehicles to pull pairs of even longer trailers — a combination that would make the rigs even more dangerous to contend with on highways, says a member of Congress who opposes the bill. “This is the most aggressive attack on safety I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Rep. Nita Lowey.

That top legal weight of 80,000 pounds for a commercial hauler is 20 times more than the weight of an average car.

In physics, the equation for determining momentum is straightforward: you multiply mass times speed. Out on the interstate, the math is right there for you to see in the imposing size of the tractor-trailer. Without using a calculator, anyone on an Akron highway looking at an 18-wheeler instinctively knows that you don’t want to be in a truck accident with the 80-foot-long vehicles moving at up to 70 mph.

Despite all of that, the trucking lobby is pushing Congress hard to allow even bigger trucks on our highways. The proposal adds some other gifts for the trucking industry, including doing away with plans requiring trucking companies to carry better vehicle insurance.

“Christmas came early for the trucking industry,” Lowey, who is a senior member of the House appropriations subcommittee, told Bloomberg.

The longer two-trailer trucks will be even more difficult for their drivers to stop than the already-difficult existing vehicles. No matter. The lobbying effort reportedly led by FedEx is relentless.

The trucking industry argues that the longer rigs will cut costs. But at what price? Ask someone who has been involved in a truck accident. Many of them have suffered horrific injuries requiring surgeries and long periods of rehabilitation.

Crash victims and their personal injury attorneys have also had to force the deep-pocketed trucking companies to shoulder financial responsibility for the damage their enormous trucks do. It’s not an easy task to take on a giant company, but it can be done successfully.