VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Will Congress increase the federal vehicle weight limit for trucks?

If you've done any sort of highway driving over the last few years, whether here in Florida or across the nation, chances are good that you've noticed an uptick in the number of large trucks barreling by you.

Of course, with this greater number of trucks on the road has also come a sizeable number of traffic tragedies. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 104,000 people suffered serious personal injuries while another 3,921 lost their lives in truck accidents in 2012 alone.

Interestingly enough, one member of Congress has now sponsored a bill that he believes would provide motorists with a greater measure of protection from these types of catastrophic crashes.

Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) has introduced the Safe, Flexible and Efficient Trucking Act -- otherwise known as the Safe Trucking Act -- which, if passed, would enable state lawmakers to depart from federal regulations by passing laws permitting trucks weighing 91,000 pounds and equipped with a sixth axle to travel on the interstate highways located within their borders.

According to Ribble, any potential danger posed by adding 11,000 pounds to the existing gross combination weight limit would be offset by the mandatory addition of a sixth axle, which would not only serve to increase a truck's overall stopping power, but also enable the Department of Transportation to mandate additional safety equipment.

Ribble, whose measure has gained the support of several major carriers but curiously none of the major truck lobbies, indicates that the Safe Trucking Act would also serve to make the roads less congested, as more trucks would theoretically be able to carry less, and reduce both wear on the asphalt and vehicle emissions.

It remains to be seen whether the Safe Trucking Act, which Ribble plans to introduce as an amendment to the highway bill, will muster the necessary support on Capitol Hill.

While the notion of fewer, better-equipped trucks on the road does sound good in theory, the idea that these already mammoth machines could become even more so is somewhat disconcerting.

What are your thoughts?

If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of a trucker or trucking company, consider taking the time to speak with an experienced legal professional about your options for securing justice.

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