Will The Alabama Legislature Worsen The Problem Of Overweight Trucks?
You are driving down a rural road in Alabama. You look in your rearview mirror. A huge logging truck is bearing down on you! That big truck is moving fast!! Real fast!! If you’ve driven any of the rural roads or highways in Alabama, you’ve probably experienced the rush of a huge, overweight logging truck.
Most logging truck drivers are only paid a small amount per mile. Logging companies incentivize them to drive as many miles as possible, as fast as possible. Then, these companies often overload their trucks with logs. Too fast. Too heavy. Big overloaded trucks barreling down narrow rural highways. These trucks can be very dangerous to others on our roads.
Several years ago, I was inspecting the scene of a logging truck accident along a rural road. What happened in that crash? A logging truck slammed into the rear of my client’s pick-up truck. The violent collision propelled my client’s pick-up into a nearby field. Logs also went flying all over the roadway. My client and his passenger both suffered serious back injuries requiring spinal surgery. Yet, nothing changed for the logging company after the crash. Months later when I inspected the scene, my investigator and I watched several of the company’s trucks pass the scene well over the speed limit and fully loaded with logs.
We need to improve safety. We need to take steps to prevent overweight trucks on our roadways. How often do you see large trucks being weighed along our Interstates? Almost never? The issue with overweight trucks is important on both our rural roads and Interstates.
Now some members of the Alabama Legislature want to make our roads even more dangerous? They are actually proposing legislation to allow heavier log trucks!
Last year, some of our legislators proposed increasing log truck weight limits by an additional 10%. That proposal prompted lots of concerns from both safety advocates and infrastructure specialists. In a WHNT report, a representative of AAA noted that many logging trucks are already in poor condition and the additional weight would be a big safety concern. The AAA official also noted that Alabama’s roads and bridges simply could not handle the additional weight.
While the proposal did not pass last year, it appears logging interests want to re-introduce it. Industry lobbyists (and their legislators) already appear to be moving toward introducing similar legislation again this year. Here is what an official with The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) said about the possibility this proposal would be re-introduced:
While we understand where efforts like this come from, at some point, the general public needs to understand what we understand at ALDOT,
. . .
We all need to be concerned about safety and the quality of our roadways, and one of the best ways we can do that is by holding the line on weights.
With all large trucks, weight issues present four very real dangers:
Increased braking distance makes it more difficult for truck drivers to react or stop
Increased risk of tire blowouts creates a danger of sudden roadway emergencies
Increased potential for load shifts or spills causes truck instability and maneuverability issues on the highway
Increased steering difficulty makes trucks harder to maneuver and control
In addition to the dangers, the extra weight causes excess wear and tear on Alabama roads and bridges. That costs all of us.
Overweight trucks are a serious danger on Alabama roads and highways. Each year, overweight trucks cause many personal injuries and deaths on our highways. The effort by logging interests to increase truck weight limits presents a real safety issue on Alabama roads and highways. We should all oppose allowing special interests to put our family members and friends at even greater risk of needless injury.