Members of the Virginia House Transportation Committeee approved a plan in February that would allow them to study allowing heavier tractor trailers on Virginia roads.
Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, proposed the new legislation for Virginia’s Department of Transportation that would convene a working group to study the safety, efficiency and insfrastructure issues that would be involved with allowing heavier trucks on Virginia roads.
The proposal would gather many stakeholders to study the effects if Virginia were to be part of a federal pilot program that would allow trucks with six axles weighing up to 91,000 pounds on Virginia roads. There is no such federal pilot program at this time, but Garrett thinks the legislation he is proposing would help Virginia to become a part of the program if it eventually comes into being.
Congress rejected plans for heavier tractor trailers in 2015, but trucking industry leaders have been working with major stakeholders such as the Safer Hauling and Infrastructure Protection coalition to push for more lenient trucking regulations.
For the most part, weights on trucks in Virginia is limited to 80,000 pounds.
Many safety advocates and police chiefs are opposed to allowing heavier trucks on Virginia highways. They say that much of the state’s truck traffic runs through Roanoke and the New River Valley on I-81, which is an area with a lot of collision. They say this hilly terrain makes traffic flow more complicated and heavier trucks cannot maintain speed limits on the hills. This could lead to more traffic and accidents, they say.
Our Virginia truck accident attorneys have seen too many serious crashes involving tractor trailers to think that allowing heavier rigs on Virginia roads is a good idea. Tractor trailers are much bigger than cars, and when they get in accidents, they can cause terrible injuries and sometimes death, such as in this $3.5 million wrongful death settlement we handled.
It is interesting that not every major trucking stakeholder supports allowing heavier trucks on our roads. Usually, shippers, especially those that haul perishable agricultural goods, want bigger loads so they can move more product at once and make more money. But major independent trucking trade groups often oppose the change because they believe it will put too much stress on the nation’s roads.
Some independent trucking groups say increasing the weight limits on trucks would be dangerous to all drivers. Our Virginia personal injury attorneys agree with that point of view.