A recent proposal supported by Republicans in both chambers of the U.S. Congress would allow for an increase in the length of double-trailers pulled by big-rig trucks. Currently, these trailers are limited in length to 28 feet each. The proposal would raise the limit to 33 feet, an extra five feet of space per trailer, making trucks up to 10 feet longer. This means trucks in interstate commerce could be up to 84 feet long.
Those in favor of the move use efficiency as their argument. Trucks tend to run out of room to hold cargo before they hit the weight limits of the roads they travel on. If they were longer, they could carry more cargo per trip. This would reduce the number of trips and trucks needed. In addition to limiting congestion on highways, the hope is that carriers could save money and pass that savings on to consumers.
Opponents of the measure believe that it will have negative safety implications and cost lives. Longer trucks are harder to maneuver, take longer to stop and create larger blind spots for cars to get lost in. Double-trailers are more dangerous because they have an additional point of articulation where the two trailers meet. This means they can jackknife or lose control in more ways than regular tractor-trailers.
Shipping is expected to keep rising for the foreseeable future. There will either need to be more trucks, longer trucks or some combination of the two. All of these options are likely to make the roads more dangerous and lead to more deadly truck accidents. While policymakers can attempt to predict which tactics will have the most impacts on highway safety, we will only know for sure when we analyze future truck accident data.
Federal law currently requires that all states allow trucks with double-trailers be able to use some of the state’s highways and have access to port facilities. New Jersey limits double-trailer set-ups to certain roads. While they aren’t totally absent from our roads, local drivers are much less likely to encounter these long trucks here than they are when they drive out-of-state.
Seigel Law encourages legislators and the trucking industry to keep safety in mind when making decisions affecting New Jersey’s roads. Our attorneys represent truck accident victims in Bergen County and throughout the state. To arrange a free consultation, call us at 201.444.4000 or contact us online.