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Weight limits for trucks: bigger isn't always better

"Economies of scale" is a nice-sounding phrase often used by economists. In general, it refers to getting more efficiencies through bigger operations. 

The trucking industry is certainly no exception to this. But when trucks are already so big, does it really make sense from a highway safety standpoint to allow them to get even bigger?

After all, truck accidents are already a major concern in the San Antonio area and across the country. The trucking industry may seek ever-greater economies of scale. But that should not be done at the expense of safety.

Trucks are already allowed to be up to 80,000 pounds on five axles. Just think about that for a moment: 80,000 pounds on five axles.

This is a massive amount of weight. And when collisions occur, many motorists and motorcyclists are maimed or killed due to the huge weight of the truck.

Some elements of the trucking industry want to increase the weight limit to 97,000 pounds on six axles. There is a proposal in Congress aimed at doing this.

But others in the trucking industry, particularly many smaller operators, oppose the proposal. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is an important voice for smaller operators. And representatives from the OOIDA have consistently opposed calls from the industry's bigger operators to increase the maximum size and weight of trucks.

One of their arguments is that bigger trucks would be harder to control and therefore less safe. It is not hard to see their point, when the proposed weight limit is nearly 100,000 pounds.

To be sure, we all benefit from economies of scale that keep shipping costs down. But bigger trucks could make accidents more likely, and those accidents come at great cost.

Source: LandLine, "Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no," David Tanner, June 6, 2013

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