Under pressure from certain large trucking companies, Congress may soon vote to allow bigger trucks on our highways.
As mayor of Moncks Corner, this is something we cannot afford. I may represent a small South Carolina town, but allowing bigger trucks is something that would affect all of us.
First, bigger trucks are nothing short of dangerous. If large trucking companies have their way, South Carolina motorists would travel our highways flanked by big rigs weighing as much as 97,000 pounds, more than eight tons heavier than today's semi-trailers.
Simple physics tells us that heavier weights traveling at high speeds mean more severe impacts, endangering drivers all across the Palmetto State.
There were more than 2,300 large-truck crashes in this state in 2012 and, unfortunately, 82 fatalities. That same year, there were 77 large-truck crashes and four fatalities in my county alone.
If we were to allow longer or heavier trucks on our highways, those numbers would undoubtedly take a turn for the worse.
I have talked with local police officers and many of them tell me the same thing: Bigger trucks would bring bigger problems. A university study published last year found that 95 percent of law enforcement officers surveyed believed heavier and longer trucks would be more dangerous.
The same study surveyed truck drivers and found similar results: 88 percent believed greater use of longer-combination vehicles would negatively impact highway safety.
I think we are better off listening to the people who deal with the day-to-day, real-world issues of these trucks than caving to a group of trucking companies pushing for cheaper shipping rates and more profit.
That is especially true given that taxpayers in your town and mine will pay the consequences out of pocket.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, when 80,000-pound rigs barrel through my town and cause road or bridge damage, those trucks repay approximately 80 percent of the costs through highway fuel taxes. Taxpayers pay the difference.
If Congress were to allow 97,000-pound trucks on those same roads or bridges, they would only repay half their damage. Again, taxpayers are left with the bill.
I may not be in Washington or Columbia, but I know Moncks Corner taxpayers cannot afford to split the bill with bigger trucks just so they can ship their products at lower rates.
Please join me in letting our lawmakers know that we cannot afford bigger trucks on South Carolina highways.
They are more dangerous to motorists, and more damaging to our roads and bridges. Let's keep safety our top priority; wisely spent tax dollars should be a close second.
William W. Peagler III