Plan for Longer Double Tractor-Trailers Raises Safety Concerns

A move to make states permit longer double tractor-trailers is progressing quickly through Congress, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal today called on safety advocates to strip the provision from the transportation spending bill.

Interstate highways in Connecticut bear a number of 53-foot tractor trailers, but when two trailers are connected, the state government limits each to 28 feet.

The package delivery industry hopes new legislation will require states to permit 33-foot trailers hitched together. Blumenthal said the move would be dangerous.

"The so-called double-33s are actually deadly 33s because they are harder to steer, harder to stop, harder to save, when an innocent driver may be at risk," the senator said.

A woman from Vermont who lost her husband in a crash in Nebraska shared her story with reporters at the press briefing Wednesday.

"As we were about to crash," said Julie Magnan, "David quickly pulled my head down onto the seat. His heroic and unselfish act saved my life."

Another party involved in the debate, the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking, claims longer rigs will mean fewer big-rigs on the roads, eliminating 3.3 million truck trips each year.

Of course, that means fewer truckers.

"This fight's been going on for a long time," said Dave Lucas, of Teamsters Local 761. "We fought it when the double-28s came in. The 33s would be much more dangerous. Our roads are not geared for it."

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