As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident lawyer, I know the trucking industry is pushing for federal regulators to relax restrictions on the size and weight of the heaviest commercial trucks, so that trucks can haul more goods at once. I have reservations about this from a safety standpoint, and I was pleased to see at least one Missouri state trooper agree with me. Mike Halford, Troop Chapter F president of the Missouri Highway Patrol and a legislative liaison, authored a May 2 opinion piece on the subject for the Springfield News-Leader. In it, Halford described what he sees as the dangers larger trucks could pose to the ordinary drivers with whom they share the road. He asked Congress to consider safety when it makes its decision.
Currently, commercial heavy trucks have a weight limit of 80,000 pounds under federal law. They also may not use more than one trailer at a time. The proposed changes would allow two or even three trailers attached to the same truck cab, and increase the weight limit to 97,000 pounds, which is a 17,000-pound increase (eight and a half tons). The trucking industry would like these changes because larger trucks could carry more goods, making the costs of hauling more efficient. Halford and other safety advocates are concerned that the heavier trucks would take longer to brake and wear out brake equipment sooner, which could lead to more accidents. And when the heavier trucks do crash, Halford noted, the laws of physics mean they can do more damage to a small passenger car or SUV.
I’m sorry to say that, as a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I know this is already true under current weight limits. An 18-wheeler can weigh 20 times as much as a four-door sedan. In a crash between the two, the truck’s much greater weight translates into greater force, which unfortunately means more serious injuries for the people in the car than they might face if the other vehicle were also a car. As Halford phrases it, accidents become severe accidents and severe accidents become fatalities. Adding more weight to trucks raises that risk further. It would also require drivers of both cars and tractor-trailers to adjust their driving styles to account for the greater braking time required by the greater weight. Especially because some drivers already don’t respect the greater braking time trucks need, this could lead to more crashes.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent families who have lost a loved one or suffered a severe injury in a trucking accident that was no fault of their own. Statistics show that large trucks don’t crash as often as smaller vehicles — but when they do, they’re far more likely to kill someone. And unfortunately, unscrupulous trucking companies sometimes try to save money by sending drivers out with no valid license, unsafe, unmaintained equipment or improper loads. When this negligent behavior leads directly to a crash, our southern Illinois big rig accident lawyers help victims hold drivers and trucking companies legally liable for their injuries. Among other things, victims can claim all of the money they need for past and future medical care, as well as compensation for wages lost because they can no longer work.
If your family has been affected by a crash with a large truck and you’re ready to explore your legal options, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe today. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.