The traffic nightmare caused by an overturned truck filled with 34,000 pounds of explosive powder [front page, June 3] serves as a reminder that the last thing this country needs is bigger trucks.
Yet Rep. Merrill Cook (R-Utah) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have introduced a bill that would increase the maximum federal 80,000-pound weight limit on Interstate highways to 97,000 pounds.
Bigger, heavier trucks pose serious safety and infrastructure concerns. Heavier trucks are more likely to roll, have longer braking distances and are harder to steer when turning or changing lanes. Most important, as truck weight increases, so does the risk of fatal accidents. According to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, as weights go from 65,000 to 80,000 pounds, the risk of an accident involving a fatality goes up 50 percent.
Bigger trucks also translate into greater damage to bridges and roads -- and it will be taxpayers, not the trucking industry, who will pay the bill for repairs and maintenance. The inevitable result of bigger trucks will be higher taxes.
Trucks are a vital and necessary component of our freight transportation system, but the supposed need for bigger trucks for greater productivity does not outweigh the safety concerns of American drivers.