The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act is anything but safe, according to critics. If it passes, legal weight limits for tractor trailer trucks could rise to 97,000 – a major concern for drivers in Jacksonville, truck accident attorneys say. Sharing the road with them can be nerve-wracking. Now, a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives may significantly increase the legal weight of tractor trailer trucks from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. Introduced last month by Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-ME), the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (H.R. 612) is getting support from trucking companies and organizations like the Washington-based Coalition for Transport Productivity, who say the increased weight allowances will help boost productivity, while maintaining safety. They point to restrictions included in the proposed bill that requires trucks to be equipped with at least six axles and limits the weight of axles to 20,000 pounds for a single axle; 34,000 pounds for tandem axles; and 51,000 pounds for groups of three or more axles. But others are crying foul on supporters’ claims. The Arlington, VA-based Truck Safety Coalition opposes any weight limit increases, citing a federal study that shows a boost in fatal crash rates in Vermont and Maine after those states allowed heavier trucks on interstates for a year. A heavy truck is defined as one that’s in excess of 10,000 pounds, in reality, most weigh between 50,000 and 100,000 pounds – even those with empty trailers. Cargo loads can significantly increase a truck’s weight and its potential for danger. Just one sudden maneuver to avoid a collision or correct a drift can cause a truck to jackknife, or its cargo to shift and overturn the entire rig. Tractor trailer trucks are involved in upwards of 500,000 accidents a year, killing some 5,000 Americans. Of those victims, nearly 37,000 are drivers or passengers of vehicles that happen to be traveling the same road. Statistics suggest that these figures may climb with increased weight limits, say truck accident lawyers. Jacksonville residents are at particular risk, considering our vast port and logistics operations. If you are injured or your loved one is killed in a collision involving a large commercial truck, an experienced truck accident lawyer can help secure the compensation you deserve. Contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.