The Federal Highway Administration is currently studying the standards for truck size and weight on American roads. Changes have been proposed to allow much larger trucks to operate on interstates. At least one group, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, has come out against the measure as a threat to the survival of smaller trucking fleets as well as a threat to the safety of truckers and others on the road. One OOIDA member noted increased weight in a truck leads to a reduced margin for errors and may increase the potential for serious truck accidents.
The current federal standard regarding truck size and weight is 80,000 pounds on a five axle truck. The latest proposal being considered by Congress would change the federal standard to 97,000 pounds on six axles. The increased limit would apply to federal standards only. Individual states still have the power to restrict the size and weight of vehicles allowed on state roadways.
Among the problems identified by OOIDA is the need to re-route trucks or complete expensive repairs to bridges that are weight-restricted. The existing standards may have been taken into account in engineering and building highways, bridges, and safety barriers. A change could leave existing structures at risk for catastrophic failure.
The change has been proposed as a potential cost-saving measure for the trucking companies that can afford bigger, heavier trucks. It is not clear if the full safety impact of such a change has been considered. Before allowing larger, heavier vehicles onto the road with drivers with little to no experience handling such heavy loads behind the wheel, it would be wise to fully understand the potential safety implications.
Source: Land Line, “Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no,” by David Tanner, 6 June 2013