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Debate over use of longer semi-trucks continues in US

Nearly every legislative year, bills are put before Congress typically with the intent of improving conditions in the United States. For the purpose of today's post, let's focus on legislation specifically designed to improve driving conditions and highway safety here in the U.S.

In an effort to improve safety, many pieces of legislation have been presented over the decades; but it's a recent highway bill that is grabbing particular attention. That's because this particular bill could define the trucking landscape for generations to come. In the bill are provisions that would either allow or disallow the operation of 33-foot-long semi-trucks on the federal interstate system. While some support the use of these long trucks, others oppose such an action.

The reason some are opposing the provisions that would allow the use of 33-foot-long semi-trucks is because of safety concerns. Some have argued that longer trucks are more dangerous than the single-unit trailers most drivers are used to. Though supporters of bigger trucks would argue against this assessment, it is grounded in fact.

According to statistics provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, semi-trucks carrying more weight require a longer stopping distance than lighter vehicles. Because of a 33-foot-long trailer's size and the potential for more cargo, the stopping distance for such vehicles would increase considerably because of the increase in weight. This may not be a factor most truck drivers will be prepared for if 33-foot-long trailers are given the go-ahead for widespread use.

Increased stopping distance is not the only concern surrounding 33-foot-long trucks. Their size makes them more of a hazard when changing lanes or making sharp turns through city areas. They may also cause considerably more damage during truck crashes as well because of their size and weight.

The hope is that legislators will take these concerns to heart when considering this highway bill, and make a sound decision regarding safety on our federal highways.

Sources: Fleet Owner, "Highway bill delivery heads into last mile," Nov. 16, 2015

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "Heavy Truck Research," Accessed Nov. 18, 2015

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