Michigan truck drivers understand what extra weight in the trailer does to their braking power. Unless you have driven a fully loaded semi-truck, you may not know how scary it can actually be.
In November 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom significantly increased the weight limit for trucks in his state. Following his announcement, many experienced truck drivers expressed their concerns to the local media.
8,000 extra pounds
Gov. Newsom increased the weight limit for trucks in California from 80,000 pounds to 88,000 pounds. The easing of weight regulations was reportedly an effort to decrease congestion around the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.
One trucker with 12 years of experience said that driving a truck loaded up to 80,000 pounds was scary enough. He said that, with that much weight, you have to press on the brakes for five seconds before they even start working. Operating such a large vehicle with so little braking power can be especially scary in heavy traffic.
No federal safety data on truck weight
The U.S. Department of Transportation collects data on big rig accidents across the country, but the agency does not save information about the weight of trucks at the time that they crash. However, researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research did find a significant link between heavy trucks and fatal truck accidents.
Truck safety measures like weight limits, hours of service, and age requirements are sometimes relaxed during emergency events to prevent supply chain interruptions. Truck weight limits have been increased after hurricanes, and many states increased truck weight limits during the lockdown. Truck drivers who are worried about the increased weight limits in California also warned that there are more inexperienced truck drivers on the roads these days.