Semi-truck injury accidents and semi-truck road deaths could multiply in the United States if Congress passes a measure allowing longer truck trailers. Truck accident lawyers Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman oppose the legislation on behalf of all motorists who would be put in harm’s way. Safety advocates, labor organizations and a diverse group of senators who work on both sides of the partisan aisle in Congress also oppose the notion of 91-foot twin-trailer trucks.
“The whole idea of longer semi-trucks smacks of nothing but special interest pandering,’’ Pritzker said. “It’s difficult to believe that certain folks in Washington are willing to put trucking profits ahead of motor vehicle safety.’’
The impetus for a federal law to legalize twin 33-foot trailers came from the package delivery and shipping industry. Some of those for-profit entities have argued that the increase in carrying capacity per semi-truck would take more trucks off the road, conserve fuel, lower carbon emissions and result in fewer crashes. The current federally sanctioned length for twin trailers is 28 feet each.
Safety proponents, including many traffic engineers at the state level, fail to see how the bigger rigs could lead to fewer collisions. The longer tandems have been nicknamed “deadly doubles.’’ Some states already allow the 10-foot-longer semis on the highways, but at least 38 states ban them — including highway-savvy California. The U.S. Department of Transportation also opposes passage, at least until the agency can give it more study.
Trucking Accident Claim
Truck accident lawyer Hageman has won millions of dollars in semi-truck lawsuits for bicyclists and motorists who were run over by 18-wheelers. He said a crucial metric to consider in the debate over longer trailers is the additional stopping distance required for the larger, heavier semi-trucks. The longer assemblies would need an extra 22 feet to stop at a given highway speed. At that distance, Hageman said, the difference could be a matter of life and death of your loved one..
“There’s no question people would be placed at greater risk on our highways,’’ Hageman said.
In a safety-first culture, he said, lawmakers would consider the hazards of longer passing distances, difficulty merging and the inability of some ramps and turn lanes to safely support the larger trucks. Trucks hauling double 28-foot trailers, the current maximum, already are being blamed for about 4,000 traffic fatalities each year.
So far, the truck expansion bill has been introduced by Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby. It has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee by a single vote. But as the bill gains more attention in Congress, new voices are speaking out against it as an affront to American families who have already experienced increased road danger from the growing profiles of semi-trucks on our roads.
The opponents include a growing number of law enforcement officials who are first-hand witnesses to the havoc caused by semitrailer crashes.