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Trucking industry pushes for an extra 10 feet on twin trailers

A proposed federal law would allow large trucks to haul two 33-foot trailers. Many believe states should have the authority to make these regulations.

Motorists in Oakland, California, may be accustomed to navigating around large trucks with 28-foot-long twin trailers, although some may be uncomfortable with the length. However, according to the Huffington Post, Congress is considering a bill that would allow trucking companies to extend the length of each trailer to 33 feet. This proposed legislation is the result of the trucking industry’s push to get more freight on the roadways without adding more drivers to the workforce.

Controversies over safety

According to the American Trucking Association, the added length to twin trailers is modest, and the overall weight of the vehicles would not change. However, USA Today reports that highway safety advocates are resisting the efforts on the part of the trucking industry to relax the federal regulations. Instead, these agencies would rather see legislation passed that tightens restrictions and prevents
unsafe trucking practices.

Some feel that current federal regulations are too lax already, and that tractor trailer operators are already at a disadvantage on the highways due to the size of their vehicles. For example, the current weight and length limits create significant stopping distances for tractor trailers. A fully alert operator requires approximately 310 feet to come to a stop from a speed of 60 miles per hour. According to Bloomberg, the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety claims that greater lengths will negatively affect both stopping distance and operating safety.

Politicians resist weakened regulations

U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein from California is part of a group of representatives who are taking a stand against the legislation, resisting the potential override of the state’s ability to enforce their own standards, according to Land Line, a business magazine for the trucking industry. California is one of 39 states that has resisted the change by holding to the current 28-foot limit. Sen. Feinstein is calling for more studies to assess the safety of these trucks before the law is passed.

Large truck crash statistics

The most current data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows an estimate of 95,000 injuries and 3,964 fatalities due to
truck accidents in 2013. People in passenger vehicles made up 71 percent of the fatalities, while only 17 percent were in the commercial trucks. Another 11 percent of those killed were pedestrians, pedalcyclists and others who were not occupants of a vehicle.

These thousands of people w ho are injured in truck accidents each year often sustain permanent disabilities, high medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney in California may be able to assist victims in obtaining the maximum compensation the law allows.

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