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Super-Size Trailers – Bigger is not Better, Just More Dangerous

The North Georgia area, including metro Atlanta, has no shortage of highways running through its landscape.  And whenever there are highways, there are usually multiple tractor trailers travelling on them at any given time.  Most of us, while driving a motor vehicle, have had to share the roads with a massive tractor trailer, which can lead to a harrowing and dangerous experience.  And we’ve all seen the devastating results an accident with a tractor trailer can have on passenger vehicle and its occupants.

Now, trucking groups are lobbying lawmakers in the nation’s capital to allow for even larger and heavier trucks on our highways. The push for allowing twin 33-foot trailers, or Double 33’s, continues.  If this passes, this means that trailers as long as an 8-story building could be sharing the roads with passenger cars, cyclists and pedestrians.  That undoubtedly is a dangerous idea, and one that should be strongly opposed by trucking safety advocates.

One of the truck lobbying groups, Americans for Modern Transportation, argue that larger trucks that can carry heavier freights are absolutely necessary because of the increased demand posed by companies like Amazon. A growing demand for online deliveries has made it necessary to revise old rules, and increase the weight limits on trucks operating on our highways. Unfortunately, the focus of these groups are more economic savings rather than road safety.

The industry as a whole is pushing for trucks that weigh as much as 91,000 pounds to be allowed to operate on interstates and highways. In the case of double trailer trucks, the industry is pushing for an increase of 5 feet per trailer, or an overall increase of 10 feet.

Today’s current limits restrict a truck’s weight to about 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. The limits have been set after careful consideration of all facts, including the serious safety issues involved. A truck at 80,000 pounds is already an enormously heavy and powerful piece of machinery that can crush smaller vehicles that come into contact with it. The large bulk and weight also makes trucks very challenging to maneuver.

Further complicating matters is that fact that our current infrastructure does not allow for trucks larger and heavier than the current limit to operate on our highways without significant risk to life and property.  With a growing number of passenger vehicles on our roads and highways, lawmakers need to weigh the implications of allowing heavier and bulkier trucks on our roads to jostle for space with smaller vehicles.  The current infrastructure in many parts of the country is outdated and badly in need of repairs and upgrades.

What’s more, these trucks are not just going to be travelling on the highways, but on state and local roads as well.  For instance, they will need to be on local roads to deliver and pick-up their freight, and also to get fuel, food, and any other necessities for the driver.  Imagine a Double 33 travelling down your local road to make a delivery and the havoc it could cause as a result.  Because these trucks will not be limited to just to the highways, any move to allow larger trucks should be preceded by studies that not only identify but also implement specific changes that the existing infrastructure before allowing larger trucks on our roadways.

Fortunately, several safety advocates including the Coalition against Bigger Trucks are pushing strongly against the trucking industry’s proposal. Safety advocates including police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country are also in DC lobbying against the trucking industry’s proposals.  Although there are a few states, including California, that have conducted studies to determine the feasibility of allowing these larger trucks on the roads, the hope is the Double 33’s will not find a place on Georgia’s roadways.