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Kudos to the AAA for opposing new proposed commercial truck size and weight increases

March 30, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

House bill HR612 would increase truck weight beyond current 80,000 pound maximum

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) has come out against efforts to raise maximum size and weights on heavy commercial trucks.

This is important. AAA has nearly 50 million members, so when they speak up, folks tend to listen.  I was past-president of the American Association for Justice truck accident lawyer litigation group during the Bush years, and worked with other truck attorneys from around the country to oppose weight increases.  Now the issue has reappeared and AAA speaking out on this important safety issue that effects us all is important.

There’s a proposed house bill, HR612, that would increase weights on federal highways well beyond the current 80,000 pound maximum.

Following a strong push back last year, the two-year highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), didn’t include an increase in truck weight. Instead, it called for a comprehensive study of the effects of truck size and weight on freeways, safety and the economy.

But U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud (D-ME) and Reed Ribble (R-WI), introduced HR612, which would increase the maximum gross vehicle weight to 97,000 pounds on six axles. The bill has support from the large shipping community and the American Trucking Associations.

Obviously, larger and heavier trucks are a serious safety concern.   It’s just physics.  Nearly 5,000 people are killed every year in passenger car-truck crashes.  That number is going to go up if trucks get bigger and heavier.  Truck accidents by their very nature normally involve much more serious personal injury and have higher fatality rates because of the sheer size and mass of these vehicles.

Do I oppose truck weight limit increases under any condition?  No.  And here I depart from many other truck accident lawyers.  If and when the number of dangerous and out of service trucks on our roads substantially decreases, I would then be in favor of raising weight limits. But with nearly one in five large commercial trucks on our roads in an unsafe out of service condition, and between 100,000 and 200,000 truck drivers impaired by illegal drugs and alcohol, we have to have our heads examined to agree to do this now.

Here’s what AAA’s managing director of government relations, Jill Ingrassia, said in the group’s opposition letter:

“On behalf of AAA and our more than 47 million members in the United States, we urge you to oppose any efforts to increase the federal truck size and weight limit until the federal truck size and weight study is concluded. AAA members place a high priority on highway safety and on the quality of our infrastructure and consistently ranked driving alongside large trucks as one of their top traffic concerns over the years.”

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