Reading the article "Truckers Want Green Light for Longer, Heavier Trailers" {news story, Nov. 24} has set my right foot twitching in anticipation of the extra duties it'll be called upon to perform if the trucking industry has its way with Congress and the states.

Although my wife says I'm not quite the star defensive driver I once fancied myself to be, I still feel competent maneuvering around (or more accurately, reacting to the maneuvers of) 18-wheelers. However, the twin 28-foot trailers I encounter with increasing frequency tend to erode my driverly self-confidence. The thought that because of successful lobbying by the powerful trucking industry, I might find myself sharing the Beltway with enormous "longer combination vehicles" appalls me.

The article prompted a rereading of three pertinent U.S. General Accounting Office reports. The first (GAO/RCED-90-78, March 1990) points out that large trucks have been involved since 1981 in accidents resulting annually in more than 4,500 highway fatalities and about $6.5 billion in financial losses. Although such accidents represent 10 percent of all fatal highway accidents, large trucks make up less than 1 percent of registered vehicles and account for only 4.5 percent of vehicle miles traveled.

The second report (GAO/PEMD-90-10, March 1990) notes that while medium and heavy trucks have one of the lowest fatality rates for vehicle occupants, they have one of the highest fatal accident involvement rates.

The third report (GAO/PEMD-90-1, November 1989) states:

"Handling today's trucks safely through turns, in passing lanes and on ramps has become difficult for even skilled and experienced drivers, particularly during urban peak-period traffic congestion. According to the Office of Technology Assessment, although the number of accidents involving passenger cars has declined, the number involving heavy trucks increased a total of 15 percent between 1981 and 1986, reaching an estimated total of 278,322 accidents nationwide. Studies have shown that the rate of heavy-truck accidents increased roughly 40 percent faster than the increase in total truck miles traveled."

Interstate highway motorists hereabouts can undoubtedly cite horror stories involving their own harrowing encounters with heavy trucks. Imagine what driving will be like when the truck you're trying to pass is 36 percent to 71 percent longer than the longest trailer now on the Capital Beltway. JAMES V. DOLSON Springfield