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Bigger Trucks Mean Bigger Problems for SC

We in South Carolina could soon face the reality of longer and heavier trucks on our roads and bridges if some in Washington have their way. During last year's legislative session, Congress considered several types of truck size and weight limits, including allowing triple-trailer trucks and increased weight limits for single-trailer trucks from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. Right now in Congress, a proposal is gaining traction that would require states to allow double-trailer trucks that are 17 feet longer than 53-foot single-trailer trucks on the road today, called “Twin 33s.” These trucks are 88 to 91 feet long and are a serious threat to highway safety in South Carolina.

Our association, SCDTSEA, has taken a stand opposing any increases and CABT is leading this effort in our state and across the nation. We know that bigger trucks would add new dangers to our roads. While trucks play a vital role for our U.S. economy and transportation system, they are inherently dangerous vehicles. Here in South Carolina, there were 2,446 large-truck collisions in 2013, and 65 people lost their lives. Allowing these longer double-trailer trucks would further threaten the safety of motorists. In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) found that trucks with multiple trailers have an 11-percent higher fatal crash rate, and experience proportionally more fatal rollover crashes than single-trailer trucks. Crash severity is also a concern because multi-trailer trucks create a larger crash area when involved in an accident, often called the “crash footprint.” They are also more likely to experience trailer separation, which extends the area of a crash.

Not only do these trucks endanger our traveling public, but they also put our law enforcement officers and first responders at risk. In fact, a Marshall University-led study found that over 95 percent of law enforcement officers surveyed believe that added length makes a truck more dangerous. That is why national organizations such as the National Troopers Coalition, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and AAA all oppose bigger trucks on our highways.

The decision in Congress boils down to this: Do we experiment with the lives of motorists and truck drivers, and do we roll the dice on whether our roads can handle these bigger trucks? Proponents of truck configurations like Twin 33s talk about “modernizing” our transportation policy, but there is nothing modern about endangering motorists while wasting taxpayer dollars.

Join with SCDTSEA in halting the tide of longer and heavier trucks. The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT), a national nonprofit, grassroots organization is leading the public campaign against truck size and weight increases. Contact CABT's state director for South Carolina, Cindy Mills at (803) 422-1517 or to learn how you can help.