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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2013

Introduced in the house on February 12, 2013, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2013 (H.R. 612) would allow each state to permit vehicles exceeding certain federal weight limits to operate on Interstate Highway System routes within that state.

H.R. 612 states that vehicles can exceed federal standards if: the vehicle is equipped with at least six axles, the weight of any single axle does not exceed 20,000 pounds, the weight of any tandem axle does not exceed 34,000 pounds, the weight of any group of 3 or more axles does not exceed 51,000 pounds, and the gross weight of the vehicle does not exceed 97,000 pounds.

Maine and Vermont participated in a pilot program which allowed tractors with semitrailers up to 100,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and tandem axle weights up to a maximum of 46,000 pounds. Vermont allows trucks that weigh up to a maximum gross vehicle weight of 99,000 pounds, and trucks with tandem axles that weigh up to a maximum of 36,000 pounds plus a 10 percent additional weight allowance, which allows a total of 39,600 pounds.

This bill only supports one group: the shipper. Those in favor of the bill site efficiency in their reasoning. They believe packing more goods into an already dangerously large trailer will result in less trucks on the road and a reduction in fuel consumption. There is little regard for safety in this belief. Larger trucks means increased stopping distance, resulting in additional accidents on the roads. Groups like Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) advocate that truck crash deaths are increasing, thus truck size and weight limits should not.

Contrary to the claim that the bill would result in fewer trucks on the road, during the pilot period in both states combined, official reports from U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration found the percentage of trucks in that weight category on the road has jumped. Commercial motor vehicle crashes on non-Interstate roads increased 24%, Interstate crashes increased 10%. During the pilot period, trucks were placed out of service (OOS) for brake violations between 54.2% and 66.2% of the time. The amount of roadside inspections alarmingly declined during this time.

This bill is also extremely worrisome to many due to the impact these large trucks have on roads. Opponents of the bill argue that heavier trucks will result in bridge failures across our nation's highway system. It is estimated that 25% of our nations bridges are not equipped to take on the increased load size.

The public strongly opposes having bigger, longer, heavier, deadlier trucks on our nation's roads and groups like PATT are urging Congress to reject this bill. Contact the St. Louis Truck Accident Attorneys of The Glassman Law Firm at 314-446-6000 if you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a collision with a tractor trailer. Visit www.glassmanlegal.com for more information about tractor-trailer accidents.

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