Big Rigs Unbound

Fasten your seatbelts. The American Trucking Associations and various shipping organizations, are behind proposed legislation to increase the size of trucks allowed on the interstate highway system. Currently, those giant double-rigs you see bearing down on you, are capped at 80,000 pounds and 53 feet in length. If the new legislation were enacted, trucks could weigh as much as 97,000 pounds, an increase of more than 21%.

Fortunately, the legislation has some influential opponents, including the Teamsters Union and about any safety organization that concerns itself with highway safety. Opponents say that trucks have reached (and exceeded in many cases) the limits of safety at their current sizes. Larger trucks, they contend, would pose too great a risk to other drivers on the interstate. Representative James McGovern (D-Mass.) and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), have proposed legislation that would freeze truck weights and lengths at their current limits.

The interests behind the increase in size are attempting to take advantage of the momentum for energy efficiency. They argue that bigger trucks means fuel efficiency and fewer trucks on the roads. Even conceding for the sake of argument, the accuracy of their projections, safety and quality of life must weigh heavily in the balance, and with luck and common sense, will result in the defeat of the ill-conceived effort to enlarge the behemoths.

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