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Freight truck weight causes safety concerns

Georgia personal injury attorneys can tell you that when heavy vehicles are involved in an accident, the potential for serious injuries is very high.

The mandated maximum weight for freight trucks on federal highways is 80,000 pounds, but vehicles exceeding that weight often travel on interstate highways. Exemptions and grandfathered rules allow many states to permit trucks heavier than the federal mandate to operate on the road. For many highway safety advocates, this raises concerns about truck accidents. Despite these safety concerns, others feel the benefits of letting trucks on the highway with increased weight loads outweigh the risks.

Safety advocates believe that increased truck weight on the highway will make roads less safe due to the difficulty of controlling vehicles of such size. The larger and heavier a vehicle is, the harder it is to stop and avoid an accident -- not to mention the additional damage such a vehicle could cause during an incident. In addition, many feel the added weight damages roads and bridges. The costs to our infrastructure, as well as the safety hazards, are concerns to all drivers and taxpayers.

People who support increased weight limits say that these safety concerns are simply an overreaction and that the benefits outweigh the perceived risks. They argue that increased loads leads to fewer trucks on the road. Fewer trucks on the road result in cheaper costs all around, less environmental impact and, ultimately, fewer accidents. The U.S. trucking industry points to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation, which helps illustrate their point when the increased truck weight regulations as allowed under Canadian law are applied to U.S. highways.

No matter which side of the debate you're on concerning these weight restrictions, there is definitely a connection between the severity of an accident and the size of the vehicles involved. Whether or not heavier trucks are worth the added risks they pose depends on whom you ask.

Source: Associated Press, "Safety questions fly as highway trucks get heavier," Clarke Canfield, Nov. 24, 2011

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