More than three-quarters of the people surveyed in a recent poll oppose attempts to increase truck sizes and weights on the nation’s highways. Another 9 percent said they were “unsure,” while just 15 percent said they would support an increase in truck size.
The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks commissioned the study in part to show lawmakers, shippers and large carriers that are pushing to increase truck sizes and weights in the next highway bill where people stand on the issue and why.
The poll was carried out by Harper Polling of Harrisburg, Pa., which contacted a sample of 1,000 people across the country.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said the reason they opposed longer and heavier trucks was because of highway safety – accidents, specifically – while 79 percent of respondents said they were convinced that heavier and longer trucks would lead to more braking problems and longer stopping distances.
The poll showed that 76 percent of respondents said they were convinced that longer and heavier trucks would further erode the stability of the nation’s bridges.
Other studies have shown similar results.
Still, there is a movement among some of the nation’s largest carriers, large shippers and some lawmakers in Congress to increase truck weights to 97,000 pounds on six axles, up from the current freeze at 80,000 pounds on five axles. Some also want longer trailers and for trucks to haul double or triple trailers on roads that are currently restricted. Interstate truck size and weight have been limited since 1991 except by permit or in grandfathered states.
“We’ve heard both sides of this issue, and our position remains the same. There’s no justification for longer or heavier trucks,” said Coalition Against Bigger Trucks member Mat Hodapp in a press release. Hodapp is also a trooper with the Minnesota State Patrol and chairman of the National Troopers Coalition.
“Bigger-truck proponents talk about ‘modernizing’ our transportation policy, but I don’t think there is anything ‘modern’ about compromising public safety,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently in the process of updating its Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study. The 2000 version of the study found that trucks with more than one trailer in tow had an 11-percent higher crash rate involving a fatality than trucks with single trailers.
The updated DOT study, being conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, is comparing safety risks, pavement and infrastructure conditions and other factors between trucks at or below current federal limits and trucks that are legally allowed to operate at longer and heavier weights by statute or permit.
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