For the Record

Truckers News Staff | June 01, 2011

Weighing In

Groups spar over heavier truck bills

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), safety advocates and family members of highway accident victims at a press conference on May 3 to endorse the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, legislation that would restrict the size and weight of commercial trucks on U.S. highways.

SHIPA also would extend the freeze on truck size and weight limits on the interstate system to the National Highway System. The bill’s supporters, which include the Association of American Railroads, argue that large trucks are more dangerous to drive and damage highways and bridges, and that heavier trucks only will accelerate the wear and tear of the nation’s aging infrastructure.

“Heavier and longer trucks mean greater stopping distances and shorter reaction times,” Hoffa said. “And the reality is that our highways and bridges are not equipped to handle the increased weight and size of these trucks.”

The Teamsters point to a recent nationwide poll that found that 89 percent of the general public strongly opposes larger trucks. The union also notes that half of the nation’s bridges are more than 40 years old, with one in four structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

The American Trucking Associations, which supports competing legislation that would allow states to increase weight limits on interstate highways, responded. “In the two years since ATA unveiled its 18-point safety agenda, a comprehensive approach to addressing both primary and secondary causes of highway crashes, these alleged ‘safety’ groups have not made a serious proposal to address trucking safety,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “Their fix is to arbitrarily cut working hours to advance labor’s agenda, and further restrict truck size and weight to advance the railroad’s agenda.”

The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2011 (S. 747) was introduced to the U.S. Senate on April 6. SETA, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), with co-sponsors Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would give any state the option to allow semi-trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds access to its interstate highways, provided owners equip trucks with a sixth axle to preserve braking distances and pavement wear patterns, and agree to pay a supplemental user fee.

FYI News Brief

Real-Time Truck Parking Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $4.48 million to Michigan’s I-94 Truck Parking and Information Management System and almost $2.05 million to Minnesota’s Comprehensive System for Assessing Truck Parking Availability. Both systems will deliver real-time information on parking availability through intelligent transportation systems.

NAFTA Surface Trade Rises

Surface transportation trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico rose 11.8 percent to $66.5 billion in February from February 2010, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation. U.S.-Canada surface transportation trade totaled $40 billion in February, up 10.1 percent from a year earlier. U.S.-Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $26.6 billion in February, up 14.5 percent from a year earlier.

Diesel Prices Highest in Almost 3 Years

After dipping the previous week, the national average retail price of diesel rose during the week ended May 2, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. The national average price increased 2.6 cents to $4.124, the highest since Sep. 1, 2008. All regions gained in price, led by a 3.6-cent jump on the Gulf Coast to $4.06. Central Atlantic rose 3.1 cents to $4.269. California increased 2.7 cents to $4.465, the nation’s highest.

Bismarck Bans Truckstop Smoking

Bismarck residents voted to extend North Dakota’s smoking ban to truckstops, bars and tobacco stores. The state already prohibited indoor smoking in businesses and public places, but had allowed exemptions for certain business categories.

Class 8 Truck Orders Surge

Preliminary Class 8 truck net orders for North American markets climbed to 38,200 units in April, a 158 percent increase from a year earlier, according to ACT Research Co. Net orders represented the largest monthly order intake since March 2006, ACT said. Preliminary net order numbers are subject to revision.

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