Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers: Proposed Transportation Bill

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Congress is reviewing legislation that would expand the length and weight-hauling capacity of commercial trucks on U.S. roadways. The provision is part of the 2016 transportation funding bill. If passed, the bill could potentially override truck safety laws in 39 U.S. states, including Maryland.

Nearly 4,000 Americans are killed and another 100,000 are injured every year in truck accidents – and the problem only seems to be growing. The U.S. has seen a 17% increase in fatalities and a 28% increase in truck accident injuries over the past four years. The massive size and weight of large commercial trucks is a major factor in deciding who suffers the most in the event of an accident. Last year, passenger vehicle occupants, bikers and pedestrians accounted for 84% of truck accident fatalities.

The proposed bill would add another 10 feet to the maximum allowable length of trucks that pull two trailers. Current federal laws cap the length of trailers at 28 feet. The proposed provision, dubbed “Twin 33”, would permit interstate truckers to carry two trailers that are 33 feet long each. When sleeper cabs and dollies are factored in, the length of trucks could exceed 90 feet – the equivalent of an eight-story building barreling down the road on its side.

Maryland state law, as well as that of 38 other states, currently prohibits trucks from carrying double loads. But there is concern that if this law is passed, it could force states to allow these longer trucks on roads that are not equipped to accommodate them. Opponents of the bill argue that the move would prompt many shipping companies to switch from their current 53 foot single trailers to the twin 33s, increasing wear and tear on the roads as well as safety concerns.

The safety impact of allowing bigger trucks on the road is a subject of heated debate. Officials for the trucking industry say the longer trucks would save more than 6.6 million trips annually, leading to fewer emissions while saving an estimated 204 million gallons of fuel. They also claim that the 33s are more stable than twin 28s because of the longer wheelbase. A spokesperson for the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking estimates the bill would prevent over 900 highway accidents per year.

Many safety advocates disagree, arguing that the super-sized trucks are a danger to any motorists they share the road with. They are not alone. In a recent poll by Harper Polling, 76% of respondents say they oppose longer and heavier trucks and 79% are very or somewhat convinced that heavier and longer trucks will lead to braking problems and longer stopping distances, resulting in more truck crashes and fatalities. The Department of Transportation told Congress that there is currently not enough data to support either side of the debate and that future monitoring and evaluation will be necessary.

Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Safe Trucking Laws

Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton fight for those injured in truck crashes. Contact us online or call 800-547-4LAW (4529) today to find out how we can put our experience to work for you. A qualified member of our legal team is waiting to take your call 24 hours a day.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims and their families throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.