The tug-of-war effort among lawmakers regarding whether to permit larger commercial trucks continues to be an ongoing battle. Specifically, proposed legislation would increase the weight limit on commercial trucks from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds and increase the permissible length of double-trailer trucks by 10 feet.
Proponents claim that longer, heavier trucks are generally safe and will streamline the delivery of commercial goods. Opponents argue the opposite, and for good reason. Large commercial trucks take up a lot of space on already congested Texas roadways. From 2000 to 2016, the volume of traffic on Texas highways has increased by 23 percent, which is 7 percent higher than the national average.
Even under the current standards, commercial trucks pose a serious threat to smaller passenger vehicles. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Texas had a total of 16,124 truck accidents in 2017. This marked a 7 percent increase in truck accidents from 2016.
What makes longer and heavier trucks so dangerous?
Safety advocates have expressed concerns regarding mixing large commercial trucks with passenger vehicle traffic, especially trucks carrying two trailers.
Under current law, trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The damage they can do alone can be devastating to other road users. Increasing the length and weight of commercial trucks can be dangerous because of several factors:
- More difficult to pass: Longer trucks can be problematic for smaller vehicles because they are more difficult to pass. This can be especially dangerous when smaller vehicles are merging onto a highway, or when two lanes merge into one.
- Can obstruct visibility: Longer trucks block visibility for other road users. They can also splash water onto the windshields of other vehicles during a rainstorm or when the road is wet.
- Longer stopping distance: According to the FMCSA, 80,000-pound trucks traveling at 65 mph require the distance of two football fields to come to a complete stop. With this additional weight, the stopping distance can be increased even further.
- Quicker wear and tear: With an additional 11,000 pounds of weight, heavier trucks are likely to experience quicker wear and tear on the brakes and tires. If not properly maintained, this can cause an increase in the possibility of truck accidents.
- Poor stability and control: Operating any large commercial truck takes a well-trained, experienced driver. The larger and heavier the truck, the greater the risk of loss of control. In light of the current national shortage of skilled truck drivers, this is a risk we cannot afford to take.
- Increased blind spots: Longer trucks are likely to have larger blind spots. This can endanger other road users when a truck driver decides to change lanes or navigate a curve.
- Rollover risk: Heavier trucks mean greater risk of rollover. Not only can multiple road users be affected, a cargo spill can leave debris scattered all over the roadway.
You have been hurt in a truck accident. Now what?
An accident involving a heavy truck can be catastrophic and messy. If you or a loved one was involved in such a crash, you may be confused, frustrated and unsure what to do. Seeking medical attention should be your first course of action. Speaking to a highly skilled Texas truck accident attorney should be the next step.
The experienced legal team at Chad Jones Law knows how to handle complex accidents such as yours. Let us do the work for you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.