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Poll Says Americans Do Not Want Bigger Trucks on the Highways

Americans don't want bigger tractor-trailers on the nation's highways, according to a recent poll conducted by the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks. And they are joined by a surprising coalition of professionals who make their living on the roads. Trucking companies have been asking Congress to increase the weight limitations on tractor-trailers from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds, an increase of more than 20 percent. No thanks, say an overwhelming majority of those polled. Nearly three quarters of those polled (72 percent) said they opposed the increase. Almost half of those polled (49 percent) said they were strongly opposed to the idea.

Bigger Trucks May Pose Bigger Problems

They are not alone in their opposition to allowing even heavier trucks on the nation's interstates. According to Sergeant Gary Chandler, President of the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association, "Bigger trucks will mean bigger traffic problems and bigger risks to other drivers. It's that simple." Surprisingly, even professional truck drivers want no part of driving larger rigs on our high-speed highways. Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said, "It's a hard enough job to maneuver 80,000 pounds, and no one knows better than the men and women who drive trucks for a living that heavier trucks can reduce safety margins for themselves and other motorists. Most want no part of increasing the weight limit, either as drivers or even as motorists sharing the road."

The "Fewer Trucks" Argument

Proponents of the measure argue that heavier trucks mean fewer trucks. Larger trucks can carry more cargo more efficiently. Critics aren't convinced. They fear that once weight limitations are increased, we won't see fewer but larger trucks. Eventually we will see the same amount of traffic present now, just with larger and heavier trucks. Prior research supports this argument. The number of trucks on the nation's highways has increased after every increase in the size of the trucks. One study suggests that increasing the weight limit from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds will actually increase the truckloads transported on by 8 million additional truckloads. "Increasing truck weights doesn't mean fewer trucks on the road," noted a spokesperson for the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, "it just means bigger trucks."