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New truck regulations could increase Pennsylvania accidents

In 2014, over 6,600 large trucks were involved in both fatal and non-fatal accidents in Pennsylvania. Out of those 6,600, nearly 450 of them occurred in Alleghany County. These numbers are considerably higher than the last couple of years.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, there was a 69 percent increase in large truck accidents from 2013 to 2014. Heavy-truck related deaths in Pennsylvania have remained somewhat consistent between 2011 and 2014, but the number of deaths did jump from 147 to 151 from 2013 to 2014.New language recently out into the appropriations bills in the House and the Senate would force states to allow for bigger trucks on the highways; more specifically double trailers, each 33 feet in length. U.S. Senator Bob Casey is concerned about this change and fears that these "twin 33s" may make things even more dangerous for those traveling on the Pennsylvania roadways.With Pennsylvania's terrain, harsh weather conditions and numerous structurally deficient bridges, bigger trucks may cause a lot of issues for state travelers. One recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation says that longer trucks will cost over $1 billion in damages to roads and another $1.1 billion to bridges.

However, some find that there are benefits to this increase in truck size. The CEO of Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association says that there would be an 18 percent increase in productivity with larger trucks and that safety would not be compromised. Double trailers are only used by a small part of the trucking industry and weight limits will remain the same.There is also an argument that by increasing productivity, about 6.6 million truck trips a year would be eliminated. Fewer truck trips means fewer trucks on the road, resulting in 900 fewer crashes. In response to this argument, Casey stated that in the past, an increase in truck size and weight has meant more truck traffic.In any case, only time will tell if these new regulations can positively impact the trucking industry without putting motorists at a higher risk for serious injury or death. Nonetheless, those involved in a truck accident should understand they may have rights regarding a civil action. Serious injuries could result, causing victims to deal with many losses and damages. A personal injury claim could help victims recover compensation to address the resulting financial burdens.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Citing safety one runs, Casey urges to 'put breaks' on plan for bigger trucks," Jon Schmitz, July 24, 2015

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