Will Longer Trailers Make Roads Safer or More Prone to Truck Accidents?

A debate is raging about big trucks. Specifically, will longer large trucks improve efficiency and reduce the number of trucks on the road, or will they cause greater wear-and-tear on the road and be so difficult to drive they cause more serious crashes?trucking

At issue is the proposed twin 33-foot trailer. It’s been a highly divisive issue in the trucking industry for years, though mostly for economic reasons. Smaller carriers say if the government opens the door to these larger vehicles, they will have no choice but to update their fleet if they want to stay competitive. Most of these smaller companies say it would be impossible to do so in a manner that would be expedient and cost effective. Larger companies, meanwhile, argue that fewer trucks on the road means heightened safety on several fronts. Drivers could carry more in one haul, so they would be less pressed traveling to-and-from destinations. The need for fewer trips would mean lesser need for more trucks, which would mean fewer trucks on the road. That helps cut down on the wear-and-tear of our aging transportation infrastructure. They argue a shift to these larger trucks would help save $2.6 billion in transportation costs. One finding released by Americans for Modern Transportation indicated national adoption of twin 33 truckers would reduce truck miles driven by 3.1 billion, resulting in 4,500 fewer truck accidents annually.

Last year, a transportation funding bill would have permitted twin 33-ft. trailers on interstate highways passed the House, but the Senate ultimately backed away from that allowance. Now, trucking companies have promised they will fight for it again this year. 

They may have more support this time around, as conservative, pro-corporation leaders have the majority in both Congressional bodies.

The effort last year was staunchly opposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who argued that allowing longer trailer trucks was “Without hesitation, one of the worst proposals I’ve heard in my lifetime of service.” She asserted that to pass a measure that would allow trucks longer than 90 feet, knowing that much shorter trucks already kill thousands of Americans annually, is irresponsible.

These trucks, Feinstein noted:

  • Have longer passing distances;
  • Have difficulty merging and entering ramps;
  • Have trouble navigating turn lanes;
  • Are not supported by rest areas.

All of this makes truck accidents more likely to occur, she argued. The Appropriations Committee asked for further study, concluding there was not enough data to find these longer trucks were safe.

That was last year. Now, according to TheTrucker.com, the Americans for Modern Transportation coalition argue these longer trailers actually boost safety.

Specifically, the study author concluded:

  • The longer trucks would save 55 million gallons of fuel, slashing carbon emissions by almost 3 million tons.
  • Longer trucks would “dramatically” reduce traffic congestion, decreasing travel delays by a collective 53 million hours.

The study goes on to highlight a number of trucking safety innovations, including electronic stability monitoring, video mirrors, adaptive cruise control, collision warning systems and continuous on-board safety monitoring systems.

While it’s true these measures specifically may help drive down trucking accidents, it’s unclear that bigger trucks is the answer to fewer crashes.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Coalition releases new study saying adoption of twin-33s boosts safety, efficiency, March 13, 2017, TheTrucker.com

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Trucker Gets Probation After Pedestrian Accident Death, April 12, 2017, Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer

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