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How big is too big?

 

There are a lot of large trucks on Indiana highways. They travel I-65, from Jeffersonville in the south, passing through Indianapolis and on north to Gary and crossing the state via I-70, carrying massive quantities of freight. Louisville, across the Ohio River and Indianapolis are both major hubs for UPS and FedEx.

 

And they say they need bigger trucks. This is an important issue if you drive in the state of Indiana, as the state is currently ranked fifth in total shipments of commercial freight, of which 47 percent goes by truck. But bigger trucks means bigger truck crashes.

 

The proposal in Congress would allow the trailers in tandem rigs to grow from 28-feet to 33-feet. This adds 10 feet to the overall length of the double tractor-trailer and that concerns many people, including members of Indiana's law enforcement community.

One group points out that, "There is a direct correlation between bigger trucks and bigger dangers." The physics of the crash equation is unpleasant. Greater mass means greater force during a crash.

The other concerning factor is that longer trailers could make it more difficult to control the truck during emergency braking and other evasive maneuvers that are sometimes necessary for a driver to use when attempting to avoid a crash. These larger trucks would need 22 more feet to stop.

With large truck accidents already on the rise, having seen a 30 percent increase between 2013 and 2014, it is worrying. Trucking interest's counter that larger trailers would lead to fewer trucks on the road. What if they are wrong? Who is going to tell the industry five years from now to go back to the smaller trailers?

Just hope you are not in that 22-foot space when one of these trucks has to come to a stop.

 

Source: indystar.com, "Bigger trucks weigh economics against safety," Maureen Groppe, September 22, 2015

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