|ONLINE VERSION||VOLUME 106 - NUMBER 8 - SEPTEMBER 1997|
|How Big Is Too Big?|
|Your car weighs
approximately 2,000 pounds. But if trucking lobbyists
have their way, giant trucks weighing up to 135,000
pounds could be coming down hills right behind you.
Heavier trucks are harder to steer and more likely to suffer brake failure and runaway crashes while going downhill. Even going uphill, heavy trucks are dangerous. Because they are forced to slow down, the speed differential between them and passenger cars increases the likelihood of collisions.
If trucking lobbyists have their way, triple-trailer trucks over 100 feet long will soon be on highways in every state in the country. But with every extra trailer, truck instability increases. The longer the truck, the greater the chance of rollover and jackknifing. In inclement weather, the increased splash and spray of long trucks can temporarily blind nearby motorists.
And at highway speeds, the back end of a triple trailer truck can swing back and forth, endangering traffic in adjoining lanes--even on straight road with no wind. Even truck drivers say that in an emergency they have virtually no control over a third trailer. When they have to make a sudden maneuver, a crack-the-whip effect produces a violent swinging that can lead to rollover and trailer separation.
Longer, heavier trucks present a serious safety problem to the public. In 1995, 4,903 people were killed in truck-related crashes and over 100,000 were injured. Today, almost all of these trucks are conventional, single trailer trucks or "18 wheelers." Now, the trucking industry wants to place even bigger trucks on the road.
Bigger trucks also translate into greater damage to bridges and roads. With tightening budgets at all levels of government, resources for repair will be harder to come by. Based on a 1982 Federal Highway Cost Allocation Study updated in 1985, heavier double and triple trailer trucks or what are known as Longer Combination Vehicles (LCV) would pay about 40 percent of their federal costs for damages to pavement and bridges.
The Surface Transportation bill (known as the Highway Bill) is currently being considered by Congress. The trucking industry hopes to gain approval for the nationwide use of LCVs by using the highway reauthorization bill in 1997 as a vehicle.
Contact your Congressmen. Tell them you want them to help keep our roads and highways safer by opposing any increase in truck size or weight.
And for more information on how you can help in the fight against bigger trucks, contact the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT). CABT, an organization made up of labor unions, public citizen organizations, state and local law enforcement agencies, safety, environmental and business groups, opposes efforts at all levels of government to make trucks longer and heavier. You can contact CABT at 1-888-CABT123 or 1000 Potomac Street, N.W., Suite 402, Washington, D.C. 20007.