Truckers Seek to Increase Truck Weight Limit to 97,000 Pounds

In 1991, the nation’s highways limited the weight of trucks at 80,000 pounds.  That has been the law ever since.  But there is now an effort under way by the trucking industry to increase that weight limit for trucks to 97,000 pounds.  The additional weight limit may cause a safety risk for other motorists on America’s highway.

With heavier trucks, not only are other drivers of motor vehicles at greater risk of injury or death, but the heavy trucks will cause more damage to the highway infrastructure. Safety advocates oppose this proposal.

With additional weight, trucks would be harder to stop in emergency situations. The fatal crash rate for heavier trucks is significantly higher than a passenger vehicle crash rate.

It is well-known that the typical car made by American and foreign manufacturers is tested for safety and crashworthiness.  Trucks do not usually go through that engineering process for safety. Most heavy trucks do not safeguard by design the operators from front-end or side crashes. Heavy truck crashes result in a 50-60 percent fatality rate. This is much higher than the rate of fatalities in passenger vehicles.

Should the trucking industry succeed in increasing the weight limit to 97,000 pounds, it is uncertain whether truck manufacturers would redesign vehicles to improve crashworthiness. With heavier trucks on the road, fatal truck crashes would likely rise.

It is a fact that thousands of trucks travel through Chicago and its suburbs every day. The highways are crowded with commercial trucking in the Chicago area. U.S. Department of Transportation records show that there were 8,043 heavy truck accidents on Chicago-area roads and highways involving the deaths of 218 people during a nine-year period. In fact, a recent study for the Chicago area showed that two heavy trucks, which includes semi-trucks, bsses and other heavy commercial vehicles, crashed on the average of  two per day over a nine-year period.

With heavier trucks on the road, passenger cars have no chance against a semi-truck now weighing 80,000 pounds. Many of the heavy truck crashes are caused by distracted or reckless drivers either in passenger vehicles or other trucks. Because of the weight of trucks, it is impossible, given the physics, for a truck to stop quickly. In emergency situations, many of the fatal crashes are caused because the truck is simply unable to stop in time to avoid the collision.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling truck and passenger car crashes for individuals and families for more than 37 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Mount Prospect, Mundelein, Naperville, Joliet, Aurora, Romeoville, Chicago (Rogers Park), Richton Park, Villa Park, Park Forest and Rosemont, Illinois.

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