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Lobbyists seek to increase the size and weight of large trucks

Tractor trailers traveling upon our interstate highways weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The size and weight disparity between large trucks and passenger vehicles means that, in a truck driving accident, passenger vehicle occupants will often suffer serious injuries and possibly death.

The web site tricities.com reports a truck collision with a passenger vehicle which took place recently on an interstate highway in Tennessee. It appears that the truck driver lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a Toyota Camry. The Camry's 81-year-old driver was killed and his wife was taken to the hospital with injuries. The truck driver was also killed. Given the fact that the truck driver did not attempt to brake, the thinking of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is that speed, coupled with either truck driver fatigue or distracted driving caused the crash.

Despite the dangers posed by tractor trailer collisions with passenger vehicles, the trucking industry believes that an increase in the size and weight limits of trucks operating on our roads would reduce highway congestion. This was the suggestion in a recent issue of Overdrive Magazine, a trucking industry trade publication. However, some question whether allowing significantly larger tractor-trailer behemoths to roam our interstate highways is a positive benefit to the traveling public.

Objections to increasing the size and weight of trucks

In a letter dated March 4, 2014, published in the New York Times, a former administrator of the National Transportation Safety Board Administration, Joan Claybrook, took to task the trucking industry for lobbying Congress to increase the weight of large trucks on the interstate highways from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. According to Ms. Claybrook, families will "pay with their lives" if the trucking industry is successful.

Similarly opposed is the American Automobile Association (AAA) which finds that, of the fatalities in crashes involving large trucks in 2010, a stunning 76 percent were occupants of other vehicles. Accordingly, says the AAA, any proposal to increase truck size and weight without further study is "premature and misguided." Further, in an article titled "Size Does Matter On Issues of Truck Safety," the AAA says that larger trucks on our roads will probably present "serious safety consequences."

It remains to be seen whether efforts to increase the size and weight of large trucks will be successful. In the meantime, it appears that Tennessee has stepped up enforcement actions against truckers operating on our state's roadways. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reports that the number of THP citations given to commercial truckers was up significantly in 2012 over the previous two years. Obviously, any steps that can be taken to enhance the safety of the traveling public are commendable.

The Share The Road Safely program offers the following tips to keep in mind for avoiding collisions with a truck.

  • Never cut over too closely in front of a truck given that a truck takes longer to stop than a car.
  • Be careful of a truck's wide right turns and don't get caught between the curb and a turning truck.
  • Watch out for a truck's blind spots, particularly on the sides and rear of the truck.

Seeking compensation for truck accident injuries

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck collision caused by the truck driver's negligence, it is important to seek legal representation. An experienced attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accident cases can investigate the facts and assist you in recovering for any injuries you have received.

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