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Industry’s push for heavier trucks could compromise safety


Certain segments of the trucking industry are pushing for new legislation that would allow heavier commercial trucks to take to the nation’s roadways. However, some safety advocates fear this would place other motorists in considerable danger.

Per Newsweek, previous efforts to increase the weight of semi-trucks allowed on interstate highways from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds failed. However, those in support of the increase, among them beverage retailers and others with financial interests in the trucking industry, vowed to try again. Opponents warn that increasing the weight load could lead to considerably more accidents in an industry that already sees more than its fair share.

Safety concerns

You may realize that driving a commercial truck is quite different than maneuvering a traditional passenger car. This is due in part to the fact that larger vehicles are harder to stop, meaning truck drivers cannot always respond in time when traffic or other hazards suddenly appear on the roadway. Fatigue and speeding are also common in the trucking industry, and adding even heavier trucks to the equation will likely exacerbate these existing problems.

Consider, for example, the fact that commercial trucks are involved in 27 percent of all deadly crashes that occur in roadway construction zones. However, only about 10 percent of the vehicles traveling American highways are semi-trucks. Furthermore, while the number of miles driven by commercial truckers rose only 0.3 percent between 2014 and 2015, the number of trucker-involved road deaths increased by 8 percent. Truck-related deaths nationwide rose more than 25 percent between 2009 and 2015, and yet the push to add additional pounds to commercial trucks continues nonetheless.

Protecting yourself on the road

Whether those in support of increasing the weight limits set for commercial trucks will ultimately prevail is not yet known. Regardless of whether the size of trucks on the road increases, always take care when traveling near these large vehicles. Responsible drivers must remain extra vigilant and attentive to avoid a dangerous accident with a potentially negligent trucker.