Industry stakeholders tell Congress size and weight increase good for economy, efficiency

| February 28, 2014

oversized load flatbedUpping the size and weight limits for trucks on U.S. roads would reduce traffic, help road conditions and help the trucking industry absorb growth in the next few decades, said representatives of fleets, manufacturing and transportation planning at a House hearing held Feb. 27. 

FedEx Ground President and CEO Henry Maier told Congress that the amount of tonnage in the U.S. is expected to double by 2035, and changing the federal truck size limits will reduce the number of vehicles on the road, the number of trips and the number of miles necessary to transport freight. Maier, however, is not a proponent of changing weight limits.

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“If we think traffic congestion is bad today, imagine twice as many trucks on our highways, not to mention more passenger vehicles,” Maier said. “As a business whose customers rely on us for fast and reliable service, we can attest that impassable roads and bridges lead to increased costs, service delays and untold equipment damage.”

Susan Alt, senior VP for the Volvo Group, said there’d be no safety trade off, as modern technology in trucks helps to mitigate safety concerns. 

“With existing infrastructure, we can already move more freight with less fuel and less emissions, and with fewer drivers – and we can do that today with some policy changes,” Alt said. “Throughout the rest of the world, Volvo Group already provides trucks that haul longer, heavier freight – safely.”

Trucker trade and advocacy groups, however, have in the past opposed such acts by Congress, with the Teamsters and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association both support freezing current truck size and weight limits.

Mark Gottlieb of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation told Congress his state completed a size and weight study in 2009 that pointed to “significant efficiencies and economic benefits” of longer and heavier trucks and “safety and infrastructure protection.”

Maine Rep. Mike Michaud said his state also has studied size and weight, saying Maine’s pilot program actually showed a decline in fatalities, along with other benefits. ” What we’ve seen so far is lower shipping costs and improved safety without damaging our road system.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation was directed by Congress in the current MAP-21 highway funding act to do a two-year study  on truck size and weight limits to determine benefits and potentially safety problems. 

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Testimony was also brought in favor of reducing or eliminating the Federal Excise Tax on new trucks and replacing it with an increase on diesel tax. 

Volvo’s Alt told the panel that the price of a new truck has jumped from $100,000 to $125,000 due to emissions systems added to meet federal emissions standards, pushing the excise tax up another $3,000. The tax is “burdensome,” she said, and is only more so for those looking to buy natural gas-powered vehicles, which cost about $200,000. 

Alt told Congress truck sales and plant hiring would be boosted if the excise tax were eliminated and replaced with a tax on diesel. 

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  • Paul Hughes

    The “twice as many” trucks line is bull, since the companies aren’t going to pay to double their fleets, and since truck stops and rest areas are already over-crowded when you try to stop for the night. And since they wouldn’t be able to find enough drivers, anyway.

    And I’m sure with all the savings companies will realize by shipping more every load, with essentially the same gas mileage, and by not having to buy those trucks they wouldn’t buy anyway, they’ll pay all their drivers more, right? Oh yes.

  • v8headers

    Need to fix the roads and bridges first. Increase truck parking by a factor of 25 and in places where its really needed and get some ‘intelligent’ people to write logbook rules.

  • Mike Smith

    Maier, “Imagine a country without resources like WATER & FOOD if the doubling happens, that you refer to”. The Ogallala water aquifer is now dn. 50% or more, & continuing to drop. 25% of our food is grown from water from the Ogallala. When will we stop these mindless criminals from sending our food supply & resources out of our country & allowing 10’s of millions of foreigners to come into our country. Stop this & we stop all the heavy traffic they are crying about. When will gov & media look at root causes rather than the BS.

  • tgtrotter

    Hmm. About the same time the Highway Bill comes up so does the push to increase size and weight. Life was so much simpler when I started in a 40 footer. I’m sure the Old timers then gasped at that. But enough is enough. The proponents claim environment, safety and technological advantages. Big “words” from scare tactic corporations and government. We know the truth. They all just want to make more money and use their power to achieve it. I’m for making money too and using common sense to achieve it. And to be sure I notify every Congressional Representative in my district. Now that makes sense.

  • bigred

    LOL,,,,,That is what they need to do..Fmcsa is doing all they can to get rid of the seasoned, SAFE drivers by increased Bullshit safety inspections while they let the big companies with drivers that cannot drive a GOAT to water ride into the sunset……By all means increase the weight limits and see what happens with these new drivers…Safety, LOL, what a joke that will be.

  • Mike Smith

    The increase will do nothing for us except make the job more complicated. It will not get us more pay. And they will move freight cheaper; at our cost.

  • USMC 69-75

    Then they want to repair roads and widen them to 3 or 4 lanes…..then restrict trucks to the right two lanes……real safe?

  • douglasmorton

    Even if that idiot people call a president, recalled ALL troops, quit giving money to other country’s and spent all tax dollars to fix only the roads in America it would take twenty plus years to fix the roads and bridges in the US. The roads are totaled now so add more weight?

  • jojo

    To this day, we are still paying the price for going to 53 footers, especially in the North East. Backing a 53 footer into docks designed for 28 footers pulled by a day cab is the norm up there.
    Even many modern day facilities haven’t enough room for road trucks to turn around in.
    Could they be planning for a Cab Over Comeback?

  • Pingback: Industry Leaders Ask Congress To Lift Legal Size and Weight Restrictions | Heavy Haul Info

  • Pingback: Good for who????

  • Just Me

    “Susan Alt, senior VP for the Volvo Group, said there’d be no safety trade off, as modern technology in trucks helps to mitigate safety concerns.” She and the rest of the terrorists in DC need to understand that it hasn’t got a damm thing to do with the technology of the truck, it has everything to do with the capabilities of the person driving it. You people want to take someone who’s had 14 days at truck driving school and 3 weeks with a quote un quote trainer with barely 6 months experience them self and put them in something bigger and heavier….really? A majority of those I’ve seen come an go from this industry over the past 15yrs especially can barley handle 75′ and 80,000lbs. and you want to put them in something that’s 100 plus feet and 100 plus thousand pounds? Have ALL you corporate and DC IDIOTS BUMPED YOUR F###ING HEADS. And as far as the infrastructure…it’s a freeking disaster, why do you think we have bridges falling down under the weight of normal vehicles and now you what to put more weight on them….really?

  • Just Me

    “Testimony was also brought in favor of reducing or eliminating the Federal Excise Tax on new trucks and replacing it with an increase on diesel tax.” Surely you people realize that the one time savings you get on the FET is not even going to come close to making to for the massive tax hike on diesel they will impose. You’ll spend way more than you save with in 6 months.

  • terry

    Let me get this straight less loads and I have to be safe with more weight so less available work and I guess my pay per mile wont go up right? what trucker doesn’t see who is benefiting here

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