Proposal to allow bigger trucks on highways

Big trucks on the highway could get even bigger if Congress allows increases in length and weight limits.

The measure is currently being considered by a committee.

Truck industry leaders want weight limits bumped to 129,000 pounds per load, a 60 percent increase over the 80,000 pound limitations in place today.

Those for the changes say they could ease traffic congestion with fewer trucks needed on the road. Lengthening trucks by 10 feet could allow some companies to triple the trailers being carried. Right now, North Carolina allows some trucks to carry two trailers.

The move is being fought by the North Carolina Trooper Association and a group called the Truck Safety Coalition.

Coalition members say change is being pushed for ahead of the results from a study underway right now examining the effect of heavier and longer loads.

“It’s nothing but the powerful special interest of the trucking industry slamming all this stuff through and we’re paying for it with our lives,” said Jennifer Tiereney with the advocacy group. Tiereney testified against a similar move 2 years ago in Washington D.C.

She believes even if there are fewer trucks on the road as a result of heavier loads the number of deadly accidents could still increase.

“They are more dangerous, they are more unstable,” said Tierneney. “If they’re the double trailers like we have in North Carolina they have the ‘crack the whip’ effect.”

Giving big trucks another 10 feet could also hurt the state’s highway infrastructure according to the state troopers association.

“North Carolina’s bridges and roadways are aging and not designed to tolerate heavier weights,” said Danny Jenkins, vice president of the North Carolina Troopers Association.

Jenkins said heavier trucks have traditionally meant more damage to roads and bridges that the industry is not paying for.

“We simply cannot subsidize the operation of some trucking companies while they destroy our infrastructure,” said Jenkins. “Heavier trucks in North Carolina would accelerate this snowball effect.”

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