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Debate over ever-larger truck rigs: Are they a safety hazard?

A number of voices within the commercial trucking industry enthusiastically endorse ever-larger rigs on the nation's highways, saying that they would help to curb transportation costs and help operators' bottom lines through the larger loads they would allow for.

The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is not one of those voices.

That trade organization, which has thousands of members in Ohio and all other states, says that the debate over bigger and heavier trucks is lacking a crucial voice, namely theirs. The OOIDA speaks for drivers who are primarily independent rig owners or who work for comparatively smaller companies. What most of those drivers have to say about the push for so-called supersized trucks, states the OOIDA, contrasts heavily with the eager endorsements of larger trucking groups and mega operators.

If those trucks become commonplace on state and national roads, say OOIDA trucker representatives who contributed comments recently at a Department of Transportation forum, expect an uptick in truck accidents of serious magnitude.

The independent truckers' comments were made in a listening session before the Federal Highway Administration, which is considering an allowance for bigger rigs beyond what is currently provided for. Members of the OOIDA say that, from their immediately relevant perspective as drivers out on the road, larger rigs would make for a dangerous proposition.

Aside from issues relating to the extra training mandated to handle especially heavy vehicles, the OOIDA states that the country's highway infrastructure also presents problems for outsized rigs. Many roadways and bridges are flatly unable to handle trucks that would be on an extra axle and weigh up to 97,000 pounds, the new allowance being contemplated by the government.

Source: Land Line, "Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no," David Tanner, June 6, 2013

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