Federal Spending Bill Nixes 33-Foot Double Trailers

The $1.8 trillion federal budget that was just passed this month prohibits increasing the length of double trailer big rigs that trucking companies wanted.

Language that would have boosted the limit on the length of double trailer rigs, from 28 to 33 feet, was removed from the 2000-page bill before it was released to legislators last week.

The proposal to increase the length of the trailers was in a GOP spending bill for the Department of Transportation last month, which safety advocates on the Hill had protested.

Pro-trucking groups complained about the decision to not allow the longer trailers, which they said was a small jump that would have greatly increased the amount of cargo that they could ship on one trip – without forcing drivers to drive longer hours.

Opponents of the bigger trailers argued that the measure would have led to more truck crashes on US highways.

Trucking companies also complain that there is a shortage of truck drivers, as older workers are retiring at a faster rate than young truckers are entering the business. They reasoned that increasing the length of trailers would have helped to address staffing issues.

Still, safety groups praised federal legislators for stripping the proposal from the omnibus bill, arguing that bigger rigs would have endangered the public.

As trucking accident attorneys in Virginia and North Carolina who represent injured innocent drivers, we already see far too many serious truck accidents on our roads. The last thing that we need is to have bigger, heavier tractor trailers. This measure would have very likely led to more serious truck accidents and worse driver injuries.

As it stands today, some trucking companies and their drivers already neglect public safety. In a truck crash case a few years ago, a MACK truck hit our client’s vehicle on a highway in Virginia. That truck had bald and worn tires, and the tread separated in the crash. The accident broke our client’s leg in two places, and she also suffered from psychological issues and depression due to the wreck.

While that case ended in a $650,000 verdict for our client, we wish that the trucking company had simply paid better attention to the shoddy condition of its rig. In light of cases like this one, we strongly support Congress’ decision to keep double trailers at their current length of 28 feet.