House Transportation Committee Delays Vote on Law Allowing Six-Axle Tractor-Trailers

By February 6, 2012 Trucking Regulations

As a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I’ve talked here before about the potential negative consequences of allowing large commercial trucks to get even larger. Currently, the tractor-trailers that routinely share our highways can be up to 80,000 pounds and have five axles; the trucking industry and its allies in Congress would like to raise that limit to six axles and 97,000 pounds. According to The Hill, such a provision was inserted into a surface transportation bill being considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. However, opponents on both sides of the aisle successfully argued for an amendment that would require a safety study before such a rule could be adopted. The committee adopted the study amendment on a vote of 33 to 20.
The amendment was authored and backed by Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and Lou Barletta, R-Pa. They argued that the increased truck size would pose a safety threat to other motorists by bringing even more potential weight — and thus, force — to bear in the event of an accident. The curb weight of a 2012 Honda Civic is about 2,700 pounds, which would make the proposed new weight limit nearly 36 times heavier. Opponents also took issue with the potential effects on U.S. highways from adding 17,000 pounds per truck, saying they would increase the cost of maintaining our transportation system. Missouri Representative Russ Carnahan, a Democrat, was on the other side, saying the opposition stemmed not from safety concerns but lobbying by the railroad industry, which competes with the trucking industry for contracts. Other proponents said there was no evidence that size makes trucks less safe.
As a southern Illinois big rig accident lawyer, I disagree. The weight issue creates what accident reconstructionists call “vehicle mismatch” — meaning a much larger vehicle can do substantial damage to a smaller one in a crash. Accidents between passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers often kill the occupants of the passenger vehicles while truckers can walk away — which is not true for car-car crashes. In addition, the higher weight limit would necessarily mean the new trucks would take longer to brake, which would require awareness and adjustment of driving habits by both truckers and passenger car drivers. And according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the higher weight limit would violate 80,000-pound weight limits on interstate bridges. The group estimates that about 25 percent of those bridges would be unusable by the larger trucks, and increase wear and tear on the other 75 percent.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on accidents with large trucks because we understand how devastating they can be. Not only do trucking crashes tend to cause far more serious injuries, but they also tend to involve more insurers and more threats to your legal rights than a crash with another private car. That’s because trucking companies are businesses, for which crashes are just another cost — and they have systems in place to minimize those costs. If your family is contacted after an accident by a trucking company or insurance company that wants you to sign something, agree to be recorded or take a small cash payment, never say yes before you can talk to our St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorneys, because your right to fair compensation could be at stake.


If your family was involved in a trucking crash caused by a trucker’s or trucking company’s carelessness, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe. You can reach us at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online.
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