It looks like the huge tractor-trailers on our highways are about to get bigger.
A congressman from Wisconsin has offered a bill that would increase the maximum truck weight allowed on interstate highways from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds. This would mean adding a sixth axle to these trucks.
Of course, the companies that ship cargo across the nation are behind this law because it will allow them to ship more, presumably making them more money. But before Congress approves this bill, they will need to consider any possible safety implications for the rest of us on the road.
The Case For a Weight Limit Increase
When companies ship more goods at once, they can make more money. They can better compete with companies in other nations with higher weight limits. That’s good for the economy. Existing highways are equipped to handle 91,000 pounds, meaning no infrastructure expenses are necessary.
You would think that a heavier truck would take longer to stop that a lighter one, which would make it tougher to avoid a collision. But by adding a sixth axle, the Department of Transportation says that the truck’s stopping power won’t be diminished. A DOT study also cited lower congestion on highways and less fuel usage as other welcome effects of the proposed change.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, who introduced the bill, said the following in a press release:
“The SAFE Trucking Act will help us safely move more of the things Americans want with fewer trucks taking up space on the road, and it is based on data to ensure that truck stopping times and pavement wear are as good or better than our current trucks.”
An increase may also be environment-friendly. The head of shipping for beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev told Fleet Owner that the increase would take 100,000 trucks of the company’s trucks off the road. That’s because currently many trucks are partly empty to comply with the weight limit. That’s a lot less gas being burned.
Fewer trucks mean fewer runs for drivers, which might be bad news for those who make a living at the wheel of a tractor-trailer. However, given the growing shortage of truckers, the impact might be minimal.
Is It a Good Idea?
Increasing the weight of trucks on the road isn’t going to cause more accidents. But it does mean more cargo that can become a hazard if it dislodges.It means more mass in a collision.
The proposed weight increase carries reasonable safety concerns. It doesn’t offer any safety improvements. We hope that Congress considers all the facts before deciding on this bill.
Who We Are
We are truck accident attorneys. We’ve seen first-hand the devastation that can result from a truck accident. Whether it’s 80,000 pounds or 91,000 pounds, no other vehicle on the road is any match for it in a collision. That’s why we take highway safety very seriously.