“What we see depends mainly on what we look for” — John Lubbock may not have written his famous quote while traveling down the interstate; if he did, his view was probably blocked by an overflow of big trucks. In fact, if you have any plans to do any sightseeing in Maine or Vermont during the next 20 years, make sure you watch out for tractor-trailers or “18 Wheelers” creeping into your rearview mirror. President Obama just signed new legislation giving carriers in those two states an extra ten tons of weight capacity — and there may literally be no way to stop them.
“As trucks get heavier and heavier, we are turning them into killing machines that prowl up and down our interstate highways” said attorney Jarom Tefteller; “the odds are not in your favor when an 80,000 lb. truck slams into your vehicle.” Historically, studies have shown that in two-vehicle crashes involving passenger vehicles and large trucks, 98% of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicle [Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety]. Each of these wrecks has devastating effects. One minute everything is fine, and then crash, everything in your life changes forever because someone driving a 18-wheeler was unable to stop before hitting your vehicle.
“The odds for survival get worse as trucks get heavier,” said Tefteller; “suspension and braking systems are not keeping up with these increased payloads — basic physics dictates that it takes longer to stop a truck weighing 60 tons than it takes to stop a truck weighing 40 tons.” The national weight limit for freight trucks on interstate highways has been 40 tons for decades. However, with the new legislation, Maine and Vermont now join 20 other states that have increased their weight limits beyond the generally accepted 80,000 pound limit. “This is obviously a statement by the federal government that commerce is more important that family safety. With every increase in weight these trucks become harder to maneuver and take much longer to stop. This means that as the trucks get more profitable for their owners, they become a much more menacing threat to the rest of us sharing the road,” said Tefteller.
After representing families who have lost loved ones as well as people that have lost their ability to walk, talk, or continue working because of catastrophic injuries, Mr. Tefteller stated emphatically that “once you realize the severity of the problems associated with an extra 10 to 20 tons of weight stuck on the back of a truck, it becomes easy to classify these highway trucks as killing machines.”
Compounding the problem is that most recent advances in commercial truck braking systems involve manipulating the exhaust backpressure on the truck’s engine. At times, heavy trucks are unable to use these systems because several cities have outlawed the use of “engine brakes” due to the abrupt blare created by the exhaust brake retarder. In addition, the more an 18 wheeler uses its engine for braking, the less they have to spend on their whole braking assembly. “Corporations worry more about their bottom line than saving lives” said Tefteller.
Douglas A. Burks / Tefteller Law, PLLC
About Tefteller Law, PLLC —
Tefteller Law, PLLC is a law firm based in Gilmer, Texas, that represents victims and their families that have suffered severe personal injuries including wrongful death, 18-wheeler truck accidents, and accidents at the workplace. The firm has attorneys that are board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Civil Trial Law as well as Criminal Law. The firm handles a wide-array of legal matters including wrongful death, personal injury, civil litigation, and security/investment fraud. Jarom Tefteller graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA and then received his Juris Doctorate at South Texas College of Law in Houston.