Longer Trailers Could Lead to Increased Truck Crashes

Longer Trailers Could Lead to Increased Truck CrashesDue to their substantial size and weight, tractor trailer trucks pose a serious danger to drivers on the Tennessee highways, due to their substantial size and weight. Yet there are efforts underway to increase the size of these accident-causing vehicles. According to reports, the Americans for Modern Transportation Coalition (AMT) is currently advocating to extend tandem trailer length regulations, but the potential changes are raising additional concerns about highway safety.

Arguments in favor of increased limits

AMT is an alliance of retailers, shippers and deliverers. Formed in January of 2017, the group represents FedEx and is advocating for the extension of tandem truck length limits from their current 28-feet to 33-feet. Tandem refers to numerous trailers hooked together, one behind the other. These lengthy rigs are also referred to as double trailers or double bottom trucks.

AMT representatives assert that these changes will improve the transportation infrastructure and help meet the expanding needs of the shipping and delivery industry. In support of this argument, the organization makes several claims that longer rigs will:

  • Increase shipping productivity by allowing for larger loads.
  • Expand industry efforts at modernization of transport nationally.
  • Offer more highway stability, making roadways safer for drivers.
  • Reduce highway congestion by decreasing the number of trailers on the roads.

Increased limit safety concerns

While AMT makes numerous arguments in favor of increased length limits, highway safety professionals warn that the expansion of tandem truck lengths will place roadway travelers at a substantial risk of harm. Several studies have been conducted regarding the safety of multiple trailer trucks, and the findings show that tandem vehicles are associated with increased truck crashes, along with property damage to public streets and roadways.

A 2016 United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) report to Congress confirmed that heavier trucks have significantly higher crash rates than smaller trucking vehicles. The report also included the following findings:

  • It takes longer, double-trailer trucks 22 feet longer to reach a complete stop than smaller, twin-trailer trucks.
  • Multi-trailer trucks are expected to have an 11% higher rate of fatal crashes than single-trailer vehicles.
  • An increased truck weight limitation of 91,000 pounds would weaken the infrastructure of almost 5,000 bridges nationwide, which could cost more than $1 billion to correct.
  • An increased truck weight limitation of 97,000 pounds would weaken the infrastructure of more than 6,000 bridges nationwide, which could cost more than $2 billion to correct.

The final USDOT report recommended that truck sizing limitations should not be extended due to unreasonable safety risks.

The dangers of tandem trucks

The dangerous nature of tandem trucks mostly stems from their size and length. Heavier trucks have a higher center of gravity, which increases the risk of potentially catastrophic rollovers. Longer trailer trucks are more likely to sway when traveling the highways at increased speeds. Quick lane changes can cause the trailer to swing from side to side. When there are numerous trailers, the last one is the most affected by these horizontal movements, which can also lead to a fatal rollover.

When a tractor trailer crash leaves you or a loved one injured, you need assistance from a skilled Memphis truck accident attorney. The law firm of Bailey & Greer, PLLC, proudly serves the residents of Memphis, Jackson, and West Tennessee. To speak with an experienced lawyer, contact our office at 901-680-9777 or complete our convenient contact form today.