August 25, 2021
Pennsylvania County Sheriffs join the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association in a tough campaign to oppose Harrisburg-considering legislation to increase truck weight.
Scott Bohn, executive director of the Police Chiefs group, noted in a recent comment: “Bigger trucks not only cause more damage to roads and bridges, they also threaten public safety.”
He is spot on.
Trucking is an integral part of our state’s economy; without them, the cargo shipment would not be able to move. However, there should be hard limits for the weight and length regulations for trucks. Pennsylvania already has more weight waivers in the book than any other state – exceptions that allow promotions above the 80,000 pound standard. Over the past few decades, legislators have exempted one raw material after another, and they are currently proposing even more.
All of these increases are starting to add up to one big negative effect.
First and foremost, our sheriffs take care of public safety. Heavier trucks pose an increased safety risk. A 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation found higher accident rates for heavier trucks in the states studied, and that those heavier trucks had an 18 percent higher rate of brake injuries. That means more accidents, more injuries and more deaths.
We see these big trucks on our local roads as well as on the highways because there is no trip from them that starts or ends on an interstate. The “first mile, last mile” of freight transport ensures that these trucks will share the road with school buses, residents going to the grocery store, and municipal vehicles. This in and of itself is a danger.
An assessment by the Commonwealth of Transport Advisory Committee last year found that exemptions for larger trucks “move a significant amount of heavy goods vehicle traffic off interstate highways onto federal and local roads, raising both infrastructure and safety concerns.”
But before further large trucks are approved by the state legislature, these safety implications for our citizens must be carefully examined. That’s just common sense.
The safety concerns alone are more than enough to fuel sheriffs resistance to larger trucks. But the other reason to oppose them is the damage to our roads and bridges. The taxpayers end up paying for the increased weights because they accelerate the dismantling of our infrastructure. At times we had one of the highest gasoline taxes in the country – it is used to repair our roads. Adding even heavier trucks is just a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Our law enforcement officers don’t “peck at agriculture” or target a single industry; they are all vital to our economy. However, sheriffs and their deputies need to keep public safety in mind, so we urge state lawmakers to stop the bottomless weight gain of trucks and say “no” to more heavier trucks of all kinds.
The Delaware Valley Journal provides unbiased local coverage for the suburbs of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties in Philadelphia. For more stories from the Delaware Valley Journal, visit DelawareValleyJournal.com