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Dueling proposals in Congress on allowable truck weights, part 2

Let's pick up the threads of the discussion we began in part one of this post on dueling proposals in Congress on truck weight limits. 

One proposal is SETA, for Safe and Efficient Transportation Act. The other is SHIPA, for Safe Highways and Infrastructure Act.

What Congress decides about these proposals will affect the trucking industry in the San Antonio area and across the country. And it will therefore also affect the level of safety in that industry. To be specific, there are already concerns that higher weight limits would make trucks more difficult to operate - and therefore result in more truck accidents.

Not surprisingly, then, most safety groups support SHIPA, not SETA. This is because it is SHIPA keep current weight limits in place. It would also extend the application of those limits to more miles in the federal highway system.

But it isn't only safety groups that support SHIPA. So does the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, an influential organization of smaller, independent truckers.

Advocates for SETA are trying to cast the proposal to raise the limits on truck weights in environmentally friendly terms. They claim that making trucks pull bigger loads is more efficient and causes less pollution from the fuel trucks use.

But this argument overlooks the considerable damage to roads and highways caused by heavy trucks. This probably has something to do with the fact that surveys suggest most members of the general public oppose raising the limits on truck weights.

There is also the common sense concern that, because of the increased size, larger trucks have increased safety concerns. These include taking longer to stop, an increased risk of rollovers and greater tendencies for trailers to sway into neighboring lanes.

Source: Tulsa World, "Battle continues over big-rig size limits," Julie Delcour, June 30, 2013

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