An increase in size and weight of semi-trailer trucks is the focus of bills currently pending in Congress. This legislation is backed by some of the larger carriers such as FedEx and UPS. Opponents cite safety concerns, in that shipping companies would switch from single trailers to double trailers, also increasing wear and tear on roads. The Executive Director of the Indiana State Police Alliance warns that “there is a direct correlation between bigger trucks and bigger dangers.”
Those basing opposition on safety concerns point to approximately 100,000 injuries and 4,000 fatalities annually in truck crashes; a 17% increase in truck crash deaths since 2009, with annual costs from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles at $99 billion; and data indicating trucks that carry loads close to the current limit (65,000 to 85,000 pounds) are about twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash, as compared with trucks carrying less than 50,000 pounds.
Smaller trucking companies have also expressed concern that this change would amplify their competitive disadvantage with large companies who could more readily switch to larger units.
By Michael L. Roberts