Trucks the Size of Buildings Coming Soon to America's Roadways?

The imagery is purposeful and, we suspect, effective for many Indiana motorists and drivers elsewhere across the country.

What critics of a potentially huge change (literally as well as figuratively) in transportation seek to convey through painting a mental picture is this: If Congress caves in to trucking groups urging approval of bigger twin tractor-trailer rigs, drivers of passenger vehicles across the U.S. will regularly confront “a configuration that is approximately the size of an 8-story building.”

Imagine maneuvering around that on your daily commute.

Safety advocates don’t even want to think about it, but they are forced to do so. Advocates of such monster-sized vehicles are powerful and banded together, wielding considerable lobbying clout on Capitol Hill. Companies like Amazon and FedEx want those ever-larger rigs on the roads, asserting that they will reduce truck congestion (the argument being that bigger trucks equals fewer trucks) and thus promote safety.

Naysayers aren’t buying that. A broad coalition of groups recently sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging that the push for expanded size be shot down. They say there are simply too many downsides linked to an expansion in length of five feet per trailer on double tractor trailers (from 28 feet to 33 feet). Sixty-six-foot rigs on the roads, they say, are just too frightening to contemplate.

Despite the arguments of lobbyists pushing for the bigger rigs, it seems hard to refute claims that highway dangers will only increase if building-sized trucks become common in Indiana and other states. They will be harder to drive and to stop, will reduce visibility for other drivers, and will obviously cause far more damage when involved in accidents.

And critics say the claim that bigger rigs will actually reduce congestion by taking many smaller trucks off the roads is bogus. They cite a U.S. government study showing that, once allowed, the new huge trucks will steadily increase in number.