July 20, 2011
If the freeways and highways aren’t dangerous enough, companies like Kraft Foods, Nestle, and MillerCoors, as well as the American Trucking Associations, are trying to make trucks bigger and more threatening to motorists.
In 1982 the federal government forced freight haulers to keep their cargo under 80,000 lbs. This made trucks lighter and safer, ensuring they would be more likely to stop sooner in an emergency situation and that they would be less likely to rollover in an accident.
This weight limit also forces many shippers to leave empty space in nearly 40 percent of all trucks.
At about the same time, double and triple trailer trucks were removed from most highways and freeways. It was found that they have a crack-the-whip effect, which causes them to move in and out of lanes, endangering passenger cars.
Now these same shippers are pushing legislation that would un-do the ban on super-sized trucks, clearly putting profit over the safety of motorists on highways and freeways.
Barreling down the road at almost 100,000 lbs. the proposed mega trucks, which could grow to include 2 or 3 trailers in some places in the west, pose a huge risk to motorists.
Currently under review by the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit is the proposed Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), which would allow big trucks to officially weigh up to 97,000 lbs.
For instance, if the federal weight limit is increased, a truck weighing 97,000 lbs. would have to cover more than the length of a football field before it stopped.
Multi-trailer trucks, which can be as long as 120 feet, will also pose a higher risk to motorists. They have been linked to an 11 percent higher overall fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks, according to a 2000 study by the United States Department of Transportation.
Even the Teamsters, which represents truck drivers nationwide, are against the bill.
With more than 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries caused by truck accidents every year, the proposed changes would only endanger motorists and drivers.
Big trucks make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles on the road, but they account for more than 12 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents each year.
According to a 2008 report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, when a car and a big truck collide, 98 percent of the people who die are in the smaller vehicle.
Mega-trucks will be more dangerous because they cannot stop and because they are more likely to rollover in the event of an accident. Multi-trailer trucks are far more difficult to control.
To take a stand against such dangerous changes, contact your state representatives and tell them to vote “no” on SETA.