Earlier this year, Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine, introduced the Commercial Truck Safety Act. Despite its name, the bill is designed not to increase safety, but to decrease it. Snowe is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, as well as a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – the committee which oversees trucking safety issues. Unfortunately, in this bill her pro-trucking, anti-safety leanings are more than evident.
The bill’s stated goal is to eliminate “inequitable government regulation” which currently keeps heavier trucks off of many Interstate highways. In introducing the bill, Snowe referred to the nation’s unemployment rate and struggling industrial towns, but made no reference to how she believed that placing heavier trucks on more U.S. highways will increase safety.
Under the current state of the law, trucks weighing above 80,000 pounds are not permitted on Interstate Highways. But 27 states have been granted permanent exemptions to the rule, allowing trucks of up to 100,000 pounds.
If the Commercial Truck Safety Act is passed, states will no longer need to seek individual exemptions to the 80,000 pound weight limit from Congress. Instead, states could simply ask the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to grant a permanent waiver to the restriction. The Secretary of Transportation (currently Ray LaHood) could then create a three-year pilot program eliminating the weight limit.
A “safety committee” would report to the Secretary at the end of the three-year period, together with a recommendation of whether to reinstate the weight limits. But the decision would rest entirely with the Transportation Secretary.
Whatever the pretensions of the bill’s supporters, it is clear what the outcome will be once this process has begun. After three years of unlimited access to Interstate highways for heavier trucks, the trucking industry will argue that it would be far too costly to return to previous restrictions. Our trucking accident attorneys know that once removed, the current weight limits will be gone for good.
But we also know that heavier trucks are more dangerous trucks. The heavier a commercial truck is, the harder it is to control, the more likely it is to be involved in an accident, and the more devastating the accident.
If you have any questions about a serious truck accident, please give us a call us at 312-527-4500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation. You can also learn more by following us on Twitter, reviewing our LinkedIn or Avvo.com pages, and by reviewing our website.