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Should ‘Mammoth’ Double-Hitched Tractor-Trailers Be Allowed in New York?

One of New York’s U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer, is taking an aggressive stance against a federal bill that would allow commercial trucks with twin 33-foot trailers to travel on National Highway System roads in New York State and across the U.S.

Schumer’s concern – one shared by many traffic safety advocates – is that longer tractor-trailer combinations – a total of 84 feet in length – would likely increase the risks of deadly truck accidents in our state.

“It’s time to pull the emergency brake on this dangerous provision allowing trucks the size of an eight-story building on our roads,” Schumer stated in a news release, announcing that he would oppose the measure when it comes up for a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The provision is tucked into the Senate’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill, which recently was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

If passed and signed into law – according to media reports, President Obama has actually indicated that he may veto it – the provision would preempt New York State trucking regulations that currently prohibit tractor-trailers of more than 65 feet in length.

Check out the map of National Highway System (NHS) roads in New York State where these tractor-trailers – Schumer calls them “mammoth” – would be allowed to travel if the bill becomes law, including roads passing through Albany and Syracuse.

What Are Safety Risks Posed by ‘Twin-33s’ in New York State?

In his news release, Schumer notes that, between 2009 and 2014, large trucks in New York State were involved in:

  • 620 fatal crashes (103 per year)
  • 8,130 non-fatal accidents (1,355 per year).

The current limit on NHS roads is twin 28-foot trailers, which means the bill would extend the length limit by 10 feet.

In the Senator’s view, the modest benefits that trucking companies would gain from the lengthier tractor-trailers would not outweigh the safety risks. Schumer describes those risks as being:

  • Larger blind spots for the tractor-trailer drivers, keeping them from seeing other motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians
  • More difficult passing and merging for both truck drivers and other motorists
  • Heightened danger at intersections due the fact that the larger tractor-trailers would need a wider turn radius
  • Longer tractor-trailers would need 20 feet of more stopping distance than twin 28-foot combinations.

Several organizations have joined Schumer in opposing the “twin 33s” provision in the THUD bill, including the Advocates for Highway Safety, National Troopers Coalition (which includes state troopers in New York State) and the Trucking Alliance, which is comprised of trucking companies.

However, the American Shipper reports that there is also widespread support for the measure in the trucking industry, including the American Trucking Associations.

Our Dedication to Helping New York Truck Accident Victims

According to the most recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts annual report, 81.2 percent of the people injured in multiple-vehicle large truck crashes were either drivers or passengers of the other motor vehicle, while only 12.9 percent were truck drivers.

Clearly, when truck accidents occur, the people in passenger cars face the highest risk of injury and death. We need to do more to protect these individuals – not expose them to an increased risk.

This is why the truck accident lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, join Schumer in opposing any provision that would allow lengthier – and more dangerous – tractor-trailer combinations on New York roads. We will continue to monitor this bill.

We also will continue to protect the rights of victims of truck accidents in New York State and fight for the compensation they deserve. If you would like to discuss how we can help you in the aftermath of a truck accident, please call or reach out to us online today.

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