Weighing the benefits of larger-load efficiencies against concerns about increased damage to highways, Congress is considering increasing the weight limit of highway-safe trucks by some 17,000 pounds. The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act would increase the maximum weight for commercial trucks from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds, a move that has drawn both praise and scorn. Supporters say the change would reduce traffic, lower fuel use, and in the end pass along lower costs to consumers. Opponents worry that heavier trucks would severely damage roads and lead to an increase in truck-related highway accidents. The bill would allow states to set their own weight-limit standards; pilot programs are already underway in Maine and Vermont, where logging operations are benefiting from the freedom to load trucks with up to 100,000 pounds of freight.
TRUCK ACCIDENT FAST FACT: According to TruckInfo.net, 68% of truck accidents occur in rural areas.