By Allan M. Siegel
In a previous blog, we discussed how
roadway fatalities throughout the U.S. are on the rise. In fact, statistics show that 2016
was the deadliest year on record since 2007 when it comes to fatalities
on our public roads and highways. Despite this surge in fatalities, the
trucking industry is continuing its efforts to push Congressional lawmakers
into passing legislation that would increase the maximum size of commercial
The push for larger commercial trucks is not new, and it is an effort that
has been rejected several times over recent years, including the most
recent defeat of similar legislation in 2015. In the past, we have written
about the trucking industry’s many efforts to
roll back safety regulations that are critical to protecting public safety.
Even when these efforts fail, the trucking industry’s financial interests
in maximizing profits continually takes precedence over public safety,
and only produces more attempts to lobby lawmakers and flood our politics
with money in order to pass laws in their favor. This is despite clear
and convincing statistics that show we need to tighten trucking regulations,
not loosen them:
- From 2009 to 2015, truck accident fatalities have risen year over year,
and have increased by 26%.
- Deaths involving commercial tractor-trailers rose 8 percent from 2014 to
2015, even though miles traveled by trucks rose by just 0.3%.
Even in the face of these statistics, the trucking industry, distributors,
and shippers that would benefit from heavier cargo loads are still committed
to introducing new legislation this year to increase the size of commercial
trucks. In 2015, the failed legislation proposed an increase in the weight
limit for interstate tractor-trailers from 80,000 pounds (a limit that
has been in effect since 1982) to 91,000 pounds. Put that into perspective:
- At 80,000 pounds, commercial trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier than most
- An 80,000 pound truck takes 20 to 40 percent more distance to stop than
a consumer car.
- A significant number of fatal truck wrecks involve trucks that have difficulty
stopping in time to avoid a collision, such as when there are stalled
vehicles, traffic congestion, and construction work zones. In fact, the
DOT reports that in 2015, 27% of all fatal wrecks in roadway work zones
involved commercial trucks, even though trucks account for just 10% of
- Heavier trucks mean more crashes and more severe crashes due in part to
the lengthened stopping distance required by trucks loaded with 91,000
pounds of cargo compared to 80,000 pounds.
A 14% increase in truck weight limits is simply counterintuitive to the
surge in accidents, injuries, and deaths on our roadways, and it speaks
volumes about the fact that
the trucking industry cares more about profits than it does people. Cost not only motivates efforts to roll back regulations, but also the
trucking industry’s consistent resistance to changes and safety
technologies that would make roads safer for all Americans.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of our lawmakers to prioritize public
safety, and to compel motor carriers into doing the same. As such, Congress
should refuse to make concessions to an industry that cares more about
saving money than it does about saving lives. If anything, increased weight
limits should only be considered after the trucking industry adopts safety
technologies that can significantly reduce the risks commercial tractor-trailers
pose on our roadways, including tighter regulations over trucking fatigue,
truck driver oversight, and safety advancements such as
side underride guards.
As a firm that represents seriously injured
truck accident victims and families who have suffered the ultimate loss in fatal trucking
collisions, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is passionate
about following the efforts of the trucking industry, lobbyists, and lawmakers.
We believe it is our duty to speak out against profit-driven agendas that
jeopardize public safety – not only because we and our families
travel public roads, but because we have seen first-hand how devastating
trucking collisions can be for victims and their loved ones.
If you have questions about your rights following a commercial tractor-trailer
accident, you can find the proven support and representation you need
with our truck accident attorneys. Over the years, our legal team has
recovered millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of clients who
were harmed in commercial vehicle accidents throughout Maryland, Virginia,
and Washington, DC. Let us put our passion to work for you.
To discuss a potential case,
contact us for a FREE consultation.