INDIANAPOLIS (WANE & Nexstar Indiana Statehouse Bureau) — Indiana lawmakers are debating whether bigger trucks should drive on our roads.

Pam Biddle, a former Fort Wayne mother who lost her son in a semi truck crash says no. “Heavier tractor trailers are 18% more likely to have brake violations. They have longer stopping distances. They create more damage if they’re involved in a collision. And they have higher crash rates. Heavier trucks also have larger blind spots and they tend to sway into other lanes on our roadways.”

In 2017, Biddle’s son, Aaron Lee, a PFW student, was killed on I-70 near Terre Haute when a semi crashed into his car, which was stopped by a previous crash.

In the years since, Biddle has spoken out for semi-truck safety. She told legislators if this becomes law, Indiana families will pay with their wallets and their lives. “How do you put a price tag on the death of a 23-year-old child who you will never see accomplish great things or settle down and marry the love of his life, or celebrate countless holidays and birthdays with or maybe even have the grandchildren you long to hold and cherish?”

Supporters of the bill say even before the pandemic, trucking companies have been struggling to keep up with demand.

“We are in a capacity crunch in the transportation industry as a whole,” said Nathan Wright, office manager at Garrison Logistics Inc. in Indianapolis. “There’s a driver shortage, and commodities are moving at an all-time high.”

Wright said being able to haul more freight could help.

“If done properly and done correctly, it could at least ease a little bit of that pressure that is on the current supply chain,” said Wright.

Lawmakers proposed to allow permits for up to 120,000-pound trucks in Indiana, but public safety officials say that’s a bad idea.

“The devastating effects of those crashes just goes up as the weight increases,” said Chief Patrick Flannelly, chair of the Government Relations Committee with the Indiana Association for Chiefs of Police.

Not only is the impact stronger, but more weight also makes it more difficult for trucks to stop.

“The last thing that I think anybody wants is for the state to have to pay this price in blood,” said Flannelly.

There’s also concern about whether heavier trucks would cause more damage to Indiana roads. The Indiana Department of Transportation said that potential damage depends on the number of trucks permitted to carry max weight and whether they have axles.

“Adding axles does decrease the amount of damage to pavement,” said Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Chris Kiefer.

When we requested a comment from INDOT on HB 1190 and SB 40, a spokesperson said, “INDOT is neutral on this bill and will not be providing a statement at this time.”

Wright said he believes there is a safe and proper way to do this. He hopes lawmakers strike that balance.

“Anything helps,” said Wright.