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Large truck: Bigger may not be better

Large trucks are dangerous. A semi-truck, consisting of tractor with a 53 foot trailer weighing 80,000 lbs moving at 70 miles per hour represents a great deal of potential energy, and anyone who has witnessed the aftermath of a tractor-trailer accident that occurs at highway speeds can testify to the enormous destructive energy released.

Some large shipping and trucking companies would like to use even larger trucks on the highways, and Congress is "studying" the issue. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently held listening sessions to obtain feedback on the proposal. One organization, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is strongly against this, as they see it leading to more truck accidents caused by inexperienced truck drivers.

They noted, "The entire argument that shippers make for bigger and heavier trucks is based upon their view that it will improve their competitiveness by reducing their transportation costs." However, it will potentially push down the price they are willing to pay small truck companies, who make up the membership of the OOIDA.

In addition to placing larger, more dangerous trucks of up to 97,000 lbs on the road, many will be driven by drivers whom the OOIDA feels may not be fully qualified to handle such a heavy haul.

Moreover, accidents like the I-5 bridge collapse in Washington State could become more common, as the overtaxed infrastructure attempts to cope with larger and heavier trucks.

Traffic engineers have estimated we already have more than a trillion dollars worth of transportation infrastructure that needs to be replaced, and trucks nearly 100,000 lbs will only cause more of it to fail faster.

Source: Land Line magazine, "Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no,” David Tanner, June 6, 2013

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