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Will increasing the length of semis increase the risk of crashes?

Whether you're riding a motorcycle here in California or somewhere else in the nation, semi trucks present a major risk to your safety. Because of a truck's size, visibility can go from poor to non-existent in a matter of seconds. Coupled with the size of most motorcycles, this creates a huge danger, regardless of whether a collision happens on the highway or on city streets.

If you've visited our blog in the past, then you know we've spoken about this issue before. For those new to our site, in past posts, we've talked about how state and federal agencies can reduce the risk of accidents by putting stricter regulations on large commercial vehicles like semis. Even something as simple as requiring a driver to sleep a few hours longer each week could decrease the chances of a truck causing a serious or even fatal accident.

But despite this rationale, lawmakers at both the state and federal level have to contend with lobbyists from the trucking industry who gave Congress $9.85 million in 2014 to lobby against stricter regulations. It's an amount few opponents can contend with, leading to new legislation that could be putting motorcyclists and other drivers' lives at risk.

The most recent push from lobbyists within the trucking industry is a $55.3 billion transportation spending bill that would not only do away with more stringent rest rules and the requirement for truck drivers to carry higher insurance coverage, it would also allow bigger-capacity trucks to share our roadways.

Although the trucking industry touts that the bigger-capacity trucks would be more environmentally and economically friendly than the standard 28-foot semi truck, some argue that the extra five feet on bigger-capacity trucks creates dangerous situations. Not only would they decrease a truck driver's already limited visibility field, the extra length would also increase stopping distances. A fully loaded bigger-capacity truck could cause a lot of damage to a motorcyclist -- damage that could prove fatal because of a motorcyclist's lack of protection.

So even though these larger commercial vehicles might be a greener option, they might not be the safest option for Los Angeles motorists because they could increase the risk of accidents down the road.

Source: The Claims Journal, "Watchdogs Say Trucking-Friendly Plan Not Concerned With Safety," Jeff Plungis, May 6, 2015

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