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Federal Government Requires Increased Braking Power and Considers Higher Weight Limits for Tractor-Trailers

The federal government is considering two moves that would have a major effect on the safety of the large trucks that share our roads in Florida. On July 24, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it will require newly manufactured trucks to be able to come to a complete stop more quickly, reducing the distance traveled during braking by 30%. Specifically, a semi truck traveling at 60 mph would be required to stop within 250 feet starting with newly manufactured 2012 trucks. Currently, the same truck traveling at 60 mph is required to be able to stop within 355 feet. The NHTSA estimates that this will save 227 lives every year and prevent 300 more serious injuries.

That announcement comes on the heels of a quieter change being considered by Congress. According to the Allentown, PA Morning Call, the House of Representatives is considering relaxing big rig weight limits. Currently, they can be no more than 80,000 pounds; House Resolution 1799 would increase the weight limit to 97,000 pounds. To prevent problems caused by that additional weight, it would also require an extra axle to create more “stopping power” and an $800 annual fee from the heavier trucks to defray the cost of repairing extra wear and tear on the roads. Competing legislation brought by Congressmembers concerned about both crash safety and the extra stress on the roads would maintain the current 80,000-pound limit.

As a Deerfield Beach tractor-trailer accident attorney, I am glad that the NHTSA rule change is taking place — but I will be especially glad if the change to the weight limit also passes. Weight and braking are directly connected: The larger the weight, the longer it takes a vehicle to stop. If trucks are allowed to be 17,000 pounds heavier, their already long stopping distances will get even longer unless braking technology can keep up. And that has bad implications for the drivers around those large trucks. Some drivers don’t realize trucks need more stopping distance and mistakenly treat them like other cars; others are exposed to serious injury when the trucker makes a misjudgment and can’t brake in time to prevent an accident. In either case, the increased weight of the truck translates to increased force in the resulting collision, causing wrongful deaths and catastrophic injuries.

At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, our Dania Beach semi truck accident lawyers help victims protect themselves and recover full compensation after a serious trucking accident that was no fault of their own. When a truck driver or a trucking company did something so careless or illegal that it meets the legal definition of negligence, they can be held legally and financially responsible for the injuries that result. In a Boca Raton trucking accident lawsuit, victims and their families can recover compensation for all of the financial costs related to the accident, including hospital bills and the cost of a funeral, as well as income they lost because the victim can no longer work. They can also claim compensation for a devastating physical injury, pain, emotional suffering and any permanent disability or wrongful death.

If you or a loved one was seriously hurt by a truck driver’s negligence, you should contact Cohn, Smith & Cohn today to make sure your rights are protected. To learn more at a free consultation, please contact us online or call our main office in Pembroke Pines at (954) 431-8100.

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