COMMUTE

Interstate trucking cargo increase makes regular drivers nervous

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When an 18-wheel trust begins to slide into your lane, that heart-stopping moment can make your commute feel more like a death trap.

Trucks with even larger loads could be coming to D.C. freeways. (Photo: Whitney Wild/NewsChannel 8)

In an already heavily congested area like D.C., drivers say they already worry about sharing the road with large trucks. However, they could soon be getting bigger.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering letting semi trucks carry up to 126,000 pounds of cargo on interstate highways. They say more weight on trucks means less gas emission and more jobs for truck drivers. That's good news for truck drivers like Phil Gleason.

"I get paid by the weight, so the more I can haul, the more money," he says.

But that's no consolation for drivers who battle traffic and trucks on freeways throughout the metro area.

"It's terrifying...it's heart wrenching," driver Mindy Littleton says. "I commute every day from Fredericksburg to D.C., and big trucks are very scary."

Despite the economic benefit of allowing trucks to carry that much more cargo, experts on the other side of the argument say the cost outweighs the benefit.

"We're not only talking about safety," AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend says. "(There's) the whole issue of what happens when you have a catastrophic crash.

"You'll not only see an increase in the number of crashes, but you'll see an increase in catastrophic crashes," Townsend says, adding that trucks could get as long as a ten-story building is tall. He calls that a "doomsday scenario."

For Littleton, a single mother who drives 50 miles every day, a bigger threat than that is unimaginable.

"That is just so frightening to think that we're going to put more of that on the road," she says.

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