Push for Trucking Size and Weight Increases
Trucking fleet owners are still pushing for increases in the size and weight of tractor trailers. Bills in Congress pop up routinely and must be fought hard. The Federal Highway Administration is asking for input from the driver community, and they are nearly unanimous in their opposition. At Ransin injury Law in Springfield Missouri, we have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects tractor trailer or semi-truck accidents have on our community. By increasing the size and weight of semi-trucks on Missouri’s roadways, we will take an already dangerous situation and add to it. Studies have indicated that the highway infrastructure cannot handle the extra weight. The real battle is over safety, not productivity, jobs or asphalt. Semi-truck accidents are three times more likely to result in a fatality in contrast to four-wheel accidents.
As the Department of Transportation continues work on studying size and weight and its relation to safety, as mandated by the MAP-21 highway funding law passed last summer. The two contrasting bills dealing with the issue have been introduced in Congress. New Jersey Democrat Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced a bill that would cap an 80,000-pound, 53-foot limit on tractor-trailers for the entire National Highway System. The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act would expand current restrictions beyond Interstates. This is not the first time a bill like this has been introduced, in fact; this is the seventh year in a row such legislation has been introduced.
In February, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) introduced into the House an act that would give states the power to increase truck weight limits to 97,000 pounds. The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act would require 97,000-pound tractor-trailers to have a sixth axle to decrease per-tire weight and improve braking. The American Trucking Associations supports this bill, while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes it.