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A 70-year low in Maine highway fatalities justifies targeted truck weight reform

The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of 200 shippers and allied associations dedicated to safely and responsibly increasing the federal vehicle weight limit on interstate highways, welcomed a report showing that fatalities on Maine’s roads during 2014 reached their lowest levels in 70 years. This reduction has been attributed to targeted truck weight reform allowing heavier trucks access to the interstate highway rather than being relegated to state highways.

In total, there were 130 fatalities on Maine roads in 2014--the fewest since 1944, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety. Commercial vehicle-related fatalities dropped in 2014 to 10, part of a steady decrease from 2009 when Maine experienced 23 commercial vehicle-related fatalities.

James Tanner, fatal accident system analyst for the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, specifically noted that congressional action which allowed Maine to permit heavier, six-axle trucks full access to the interstate highways, may have “helped to make roads safer.” This legislative change, which started as a one-year pilot project in the FY 2010 Transportation Appropriations bill, was made permanent for 20 years in 2011.

“The experience in Maine proves that targeted, sensible truck weight reform will not only make highways more efficient, but it will save lives,” said John Runyan, executive director of CTP.  “It’s a fact that many interstate highways are safer and better engineered for heavy traffic, and that allowing properly equipped heavier trucks to access the interstate will provide a more efficient route while helping to avoid traffic lights, crosswalks, school crossings and other potential hazards.

“Modernizing truck weights saved lives in Maine, and if congress allows all states to enact higher interstate truck weight limits, we will undoubtedly experience safety improvements nationwide. More than 40 states allow heavier trucks on state roads, and under the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, currently pending in Congress, they would be given the option to transition heavier trucks equipped with safe six-axles to the interstate. Targeted truck weight reform outlined in the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act made sense in Maine, and it makes sense for many other states.”

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