Proposal to allow longer trucks causes concern in Pennsylvania

A proposal to permit longer trucks on the road is raising concerns in Pennsylvania, where truck accidents are increasing.

Given the state's weather and road conditions, measure could prove hazardous

The U.S. Congress is considering a proposal to allow even longer trucks to operate throughout the country, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The increase in maximum truck size would affect trucks carrying double trailers. In Pennsylvania, the proposal has proven especially unpopular, with lawmakers and police warning that the commonwealth's winter weather, terrain, and road conditions make it highly unsuitable for the "road trains" the measure would allow. Pennsylvania has already seen a dramatic increase in truck accidents involving larger trucks in recent years.

What is the measure?

The proposal, which has been attached to a broader bill that addresses highway funding and transportation safety, would permit "Twin 33" trailers-that is, a truck hauling two 33-foot trailers-throughout the U.S. Twin 33s are currently prohibited in 39 states, including Pennsylvania, where the current maximum length for a double trailer is just over 28 feet per trailer. The maximum for a single trailer is 53 feet.

The measure has the support of the trucking industry, which has been lobbying federal lawmakers for an increase in maximum truck length. According to the Observer-Reporter, the industry claims that longer trailers will actually make highways safer since they will reduce overall truck traffic by allowing fewer vehicles to carry more goods.

Traffic hazards

Those claims, however, have been attacked by police associations, some lawmakers, and government studies. The U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, notes that the measure would likely lead to an extra $1 billion in damage to roads and another $1.1 billion to bridges. That extra damage, in addition to being a drain on tax revenue, could also make highways and roads even more treacherous for all drivers. Police have also pointed out that a major concern is that larger vehicles on the road will lead to even more severe accidents. Figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show that Pennsylvania alone saw a 69 percent increase in large truck accidents in 2014 compared to the year previous.

One Pennsylvania lawmaker has come out strongly against the measure, noting that longer vehicles would prove especially dangerous in the commonwealth. Pennsylvania's winding mountain roads and winter weather already make it a difficult place for large vehicles to operate in. Additionally, the state has a high number of structurally deficient bridges that could suffer even more damage by permitting Twin 33s to pass over them.

Truck accidents

Truck accidents are increasing across Pennsylvania, and many of these accidents are leaving families devastated and victims with serious injuries. Such injuries can take years to recover from and may leave victims unable to work, drive or carry out basic daily activities. A personal injury attorney can help truck accident victims learn about what rights they have following their ordeal, including whether compensation may be available to help cover medical costs, damages, lost wages, and other expenses.