Auburn Attorney Supports Shifting Heavy Truck Traffic From Maine’s Secondary Roads To The Interstate

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Allowing six-axle, 100,000-pound tractor-trailers to operate on Maine's Interstate System would increase public safety, says Stephen B. Wade, an injury and accident lawyer with Skelton, Taintor & Abbott.

Stephen B. Wade

By shifting tractor-trailer traffic from Maine's secondary roads to the Interstate, it would cut down on the risk of truck collisions that could occur with smaller passenger cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.

Stephen B. Wade, a Maine personal injury attorney with the Auburn -based law firm of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott, says he supports the Maine Department of Transportation’s proposal to permit six-axle, 100,000-pound tractor-trailers to use the state’s Interstate Highway System.

According to a MaineDOT white paper issued last month, large trucks of that size are prohibited from operating on 250 miles of Maine’s 367 miles of Interstate highways, which forces them to travel on secondary roads that include villages, intersections, driveways, schools, crosswalks and other “potential conflict points.”

“I agree with the DOT’s conclusion: Our secondary roads would be much safer if these trucks were on the Interstate,” says Wade, who handles vehicle accident claims. “By shifting tractor-trailer traffic from Maine’s secondary roads to the Interstate, it would cut down on the risk of truck collisions that could occur with smaller passenger cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.”

Statistics show that truck accidents are a serious public safety concern in the state of Maine, Wade says. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent statistics, there were 626 large truck accidents in Maine in 2008, including 23 accidents that resulted in fatalities.

The MaineDOT white paper quotes a 2004 study that found that the crash-rate experience of five- and six-axle combination trucks was seven to 10 times higher on Maine’s non-Interstate highways than on the Maine Turnpike, which is currently exempted from federal weight limits.

“Because these trucks are bigger and outweigh passenger cars by 75,000 pounds or more, the injuries they cause in accidents can be more serious than any other kind on Maine’s roadways,” Wade says. “These trucks may also carry hazardous or flammable materials, heightening the safety concerns.”

According to the DOT, a change in Maine law could quickly divert the 18-wheeler traffic from secondary roads to the Interstate.

The DOT points to a 2009 pilot program that allowed Maine to use 100,000-pound state weight limits on the Interstate instead of the 80,000-pound federal cap. Almost immediately, six-axle vehicles began using routes along Interstate-95.

“As this white paper illustrates, allowing the larger trucks to travel on the Interstate not only increases public safety, but it also is more efficient in terms of time and costs. Our state could realize significant savings in pavement and bridge maintenance,” Wade says.

“I believe the DOT has made a strong case for allowing these large semis to operate on our Interstate system.”

About Skelton, Taintor & Abbott

Skelton, Taintor & Abbott, located in downtown Auburn, Maine, has earned a reputation since 1853 as one of Maine’s most respected law firms. Several of the firm’s attorneys are listed in The Best Lawyers in America and New England Super Lawyers. The trial attorneys of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott practice in state and federal trial courts in a variety of personal injury cases and have successfully handled cases for numerous car accident victims throughout the state of Maine. For more information, contact the Maine car accident attorneys of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott at 207-784-3200 or through the online contact form.

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