The trucking industry is currently lobbying to use larger and heavier trucks on the nation’s highways. The current weight limitation is eighty thousand (80,000) pounds, which has been in effect since 1991. The industry is seeking to increase the weight capacity to 97,000 pounds. This additional weight could pose safety concerns for motorists, including heavy truck operators, as well as cause more damage to our highway infrastructure. Safety advocates, including Public Citizen, strongly oppose increasing allowable weight limits for heavy trucks.
In addition to the added stress and strain on highways that the additional weight would put on the interstate infrastructure, the trucks would be harder to stop in the event of emergencies and present additional safety risks to operators of heavy trucks. The fatal crash rate for heavy truck-involved crashes is already twice as high as the passenger vehicle crash rate. Manufacturers of heavy trucks do not typically engineer or test their vehicles for crashworthiness safety in the same matter as auto manufacturers. As a result, heavy trucks provide very little protection to truck occupants which results in a 50% to 60% fatality rate in heavy truck wrecks.
It is unlikely that truck manufacturers would change their design processes to improve the crashworthiness of their trucks if they were allowed to carry heavier loads. Therefore, the fatal heavy truck statistics would likely go higher if the trucking industry is allowed to increase the allowable weight and size of the cargo they could carry. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Ben Baker, a lawyer in our firm who has handled a large number of big truck cases, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ben.Baker@beasleyallen.com.