Last month, we wrote about efforts by concerned Americans to freeze the current federal size and weight limits for large commercial trucks. These safety advocates told federal lawmakers that the majority of Americans are opposed to heavier and larger trucks on U.S. roads because they would almost inevitably cause more damage to infrastructure and more truck accidents.
As it turns out, the segment of the trucking industry lobbying for increased size and weight limits, while economically powerful, represents a minority of the industry as a whole. Many prominent trucking organizations have actually spoken out against such a proposal, including the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association. The OOIDA recently filed comments with the Federal Highway Administration arguing that increasing size and weight limits would be bad for infrastructure, bad for safety and bad for the business interests of the majority of the trucking industry.
There are certainly exceptions and variations by state, but federal weight limits are currently set at 80,000 pounds on five axles and trailers are commonly 53 feet in length. Many of the nation’s roads and bridges were built before these became standards, which means that some were not necessarily designed to handle such consistently heavy loads. Yet if passed, a Congressional proposal would increase weight limits to 97,000 pounds on six axles.
The OOIDA points out that this would force truck drivers to re-route or force cities and counties to pay for expensive infrastructure upgrades. The OOIDA comments noted that “All weight-restricted bridges would need to be immediately upgraded to the new standard or closed to significant freight traffic. The remaining bridges would need to be evaluated for the ability to handle the new standard weight, potentially taxing already stretched state transportation budgets.”
Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion.
Source: Land Line, “Supersized trucks? The professionals on the road say no,” David Tanner, June 6, 2013