Many facets of the trucking industry are regulated by state and federal laws. In an effort to reduce truck accident fatalities, lawmakers regulate things like hours of service for drivers, maintenance requirements for semis, health checks for drivers and much more. Congress is currently considering a proposal to make a change to a long-standing regulation concerning the size and weight of trucks allowed to operate on U.S. highways. One organization of independent truck drivers has expressed concern about the wisdom of allowing “supersized” semis on the roads.
Congress has ordered a study of existing highway laws. The study intends to look at many things, including raising the current size and weight restrictions placed on trucks. Large trucking companies have argued for an increase in the allowable size on the belief that larger trucks will help them reduce costs and thus be more profitable. Small and independent trucking companies are concerned that a change could lead to more accidents and would drive many smaller carriers out of business.
The proposed change would allow trucks to add 17,000 pounds and an additional axle while still meeting the federal standard. According to some, heavier trucks reduce the margin for error for drivers. There is concern that the additional weight will provide safety challenges when drivers who have not handled oversized trucks in the past attempt to go down hills, around sharp curves or experience a tire blowout.
Safety experts should be wary of changes that focus entirely on profitability. Before any change is approved, the safety aspect of the proposed rule should be studied and understood. Semi trucks carry the potential to cause catastrophic harm, due to their size and weight. Even larger trucks could compound that issue, as drivers would suddenly be handling more than they ever had in the past.
Source: Land Line, “Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no,” by David Tanner, 6 June 2013