Will Larger Trucks Cause More Fatal Accidents?

TruckDespite its deceptive name, a proposed new federal law that will allow much bigger trucks on U.S. highways will not make our roads safe.

A U.S. congressman recently introduced a new piece of legislation that he titled the Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act – or SAFE for short. There is nothing safe about this proposed law. If enacted, the size and weight of trucks will increase, and so will the dangers ofdeadly trucking accidents.

What will the SAFE Act do? It will allow trucks that weigh as much as 91,000 pounds on Interstate highways. That’s an increase of five-and-a-half tons over the current federal weight limit of trucks, which is 80,000 pounds.

Fortunately, there is substantial opposition to this dangerous proposal.

Heavier Trucks Found to Have More Serious Safety Violations

Those opposed say that dangers of unsafe truck brakes will increase since tractor-trailers over the current 40-ton weight limit have 20 percent more brake violations than those at or below the weight limit. They also have more significant violations in general than lighter trucks, including safety violations so severe the rigs are pulled off the road immediately.

Proponents of this unsafe trucking law want to improve the bottom line of the trucking industry. Backers contend that bigger semis will make trucking more efficient by lessening the number of trucks on the road. They say this is necessary because 70 percent of all goods today are shipped by truck.

However, a continued steady growth of online shopping will require even more ground transportation, so the number of trucks on the road likely will rise.

Trucking Accident Deaths Rose 17 Percent

This legislation appears counter to the goals of the National Transportation Safety Board, which early in January 2015 made “strengthening commercial truck safety” one of its top priorities for the year. In placing better truck safety on its 2015 “Most Wanted List,” the federal agency cited the fact that the number of people killed in tractor-trailer crashes rose each year from 2009 to 2013 (the latest reporting year). Overall, the number of truck accident deaths climbed 17 percent in the five-year period.

This bigger truck law is the latest example of how the trucking industry and its supporters often boost profits ahead of boosting safety. When trucking companies and big rig drivers act negligently and cause accidents, the results can be catastrophic. Larger trucks will only compound the dangers.

If you lost a loved one or if you were seriously hurt in a crash involving a tractor-trailer, anattorney who represents truck accident victims can investigate your case and hold those who are at fault accountable for their irresponsible behavior.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.