Amendment defeats heavier trucks

| February 01, 2012

Raising truck weight limits on U.S. highways has been put off for the time being.

A bipartisan amendment to require a study of the impact of heavier truck weight limits was approved today, Feb. 2, as debate opened on the $260 billion American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act (H.R. 7). The amendment by Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) passed on a 33-20 vote.

The defeated provision would have permitted trucks pulling single trailers to weigh up to 97,000 pounds on six months, an increase from the current limit of 80,000 pounds on five axles.

The American Trucking Associations and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity on Jan. 31 both backed the surface transportation legislation, a reauthorization bill the groups say also will streamline the Department of Transportation and modify federal transportation programs.

ATA said the surface transportation bill not only will make needed improvements to the nation’s highway system, but also will make that system safer for trucks and cars. “This bill is a major step forward, not just for trucking but for all users of our transportation system,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer.

Graves said ATA also is pleased the bill includes a number of safety provisions, ranging from the creation of a drug and alcohol testing clearinghouse to stricter driver training requirements, and takes steps toward establishing crashworthiness standards for large trucks that ATA has championed. ATA also praised the legislation for addressing truck productivity and hours-of-service.

“We’re pleased that for the first time in 30 years, despite unfounded yet curiously well-funded attacks on the safety of our industry, the House appears set to make much-needed reforms to federal truck size and weight limits,” said Dan England, ATA chairman and chairman of Salt Lake City-based C.R. England Inc.

England said the bill directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to initiate a field study of its proposed hours-of-service changes, specifically the impacts of the proposed modifications to the 34-hour restart provision. “The researchers whose work was used to justify these changes said a field study was needed to understand the safety, cost and operational implications of such a change, and we agree wholeheartedly,” he said.

CTP, a group of 200 shippers and allied associations seeking increased federal vehicle weight limit on interstate highways, supported the truck weight reform proposal’s inclusion in the bill. The legislation would reform the federal vehicle weight limit by giving states the authority to permit larger single-trailer trucks weighing up to 126,000 pounds on up to 25 miles of interstate highways within their borders.

The proposal would have allowed states to opt into a higher federal interstate vehicle weight limit for single-trailer trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five. The required sixth axle would maintain all braking and handling characteristics at the new limit of 97,000 pounds, enabling shippers to utilize truck space that remains empty at the current 80,000-pound federal weight limit.

CTP said this proposal will reduce the truckloads, fuel and vehicle miles necessary to meet demand, and that participating states will have full authority to exclude these trucks from operating on any route or bridge.

“Truck capacity has dropped by 16 percent since the recession started, and the 30-year-old federal vehicle weight limit compounds the problem by forcing many trucks to travel when they are only partially full,” said John Runyan, CTP executive director.

Runyan said more than 90 percent of states already employ higher weight limits on state roads and bridges. Truck weight reform also would make American companies more competitive in the global marketplace, according to CTP; a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development compared truck productivity among developed nations and found that U.S. tractor semi trailers are the least productive due to highly restrictive vehicle weight limits.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes increasing truck weight limits, as well as making longer combination vehicles, including double and triple trailers, the industry standard. “Truck drivers know firsthand that heavier and longer trucks are much harder to maneuver and put additional stress on our already deteriorating highways and bridges,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.

AAA also opposes the higher truck weight limit. “Additional research is required to demonstrate exactly how bigger and heavier trucks would impact traffic safety.  Absent this research, we cannot take the chance – there is simply too much at stake,” said AAA Managing Director of Government Relations & Traffic Safety Advocacy Jill Ingrassia.

The Senate will tackle its own version of a highways bill that doesn’t contain a provision for heavier trucks and covers two years instead of five.

The House bill will be debated and voted upon Feb. 2.

  • don tobin

    The only reason to do this is so can haul more for less our income will not go up with the increased weight

  • Todd Dills

    Thanks for the thoughts, Don. I know many who agree.

  • Joe Newman

    most shippers cant load a balanced load now example
    steer 10500
    drives 32000
    tandems 36800 they could cut cost by loading right and legal not hold driver up to get load reworked and still not be balanced

  • Dan Wyllie

    The things going on right now behind the scenes by the Obama administration , ATA , many shipping organizations , and the top 10 big carriers , etc are all out to screw this industry and when it is all said and done there will be no turning back . Driver’s have nobody to blame but themselves for not having the balls or the brain’s to ” shut ’em down ” , protest nationwide . While OOIDA has been a good voice for all driver’s , let’s face it , they’re an insurance brokerage firm that makes a lot of money selling underwritten products behind the guise of being all for the American Trucker . They are the strongest voice of reason in this industry and in DC and if they really had our best interests at heart they’d get off their high horse of political correctness and call for a nationwide shutdown to get the flood of regulatory reform from killing this industry for those who truely eat , breathe , and sleep all things trucking !!! Companies scaled back and now are making healthy ( some very healthy profits ) due to capacity but yet has the driver pay cuts from the 2008 recession been raised back to respectable fair levels ? Of course not . The trucking industry is recouping their costs from losing their ass and spending that money on the ridiculous cost of new equipment and compliance . I’d be willing to bet most will not see normal starting pay of 36 to 43 cents/per mi for years to come if ever again . Before 08 I could go anywhere with my exp and start at a minimum of .36 p/mi . Now ….good luck . The laws and proposed regs are simply out of control and they need to be stopped and don’t count on OOIDA to stop it because there currently seems to be no visible signs of reason behind any legislation in the pipeline other than to make big companies stronger and better funded than the mid size carrier and o/o . I am disgusted to see union’s raise hell in Wisconsin and other states , foreign countries overthrowing their government’s , clueless moron’s ( Wall St . protester’s ) making the news etc , but when it comes to the trucking industry …… we are silent and welcome to be the doormat for any and all organization’s . We should have no issue crushing Public Citizen , and organization’s like them ! We must organize and send a clear message to the FMCSA and the Obama administration we’re mad as hell and we have weathered one too many storm’s in the last decade to be taking on any more erroneous , unsubstantiated mandates and all the other crap that is being stuffed down our throats ! HAVE WE HAD ENOUGH YET ? I have and it is to the point where I am tired of ” adapting ” to “change ” . Who knew my childhood dream would be screwed up by a government run amouk and idiot’s who are clueless to an industry that IS THIS ECONOMY ! SHUT EM DOWN DRIVER’S AND I GAURANTEE DC WILL BE REMINDED IN A REAL HURRY WHEN THEY PUSH AGAIN WE WILL PUSH BACK . WE MUST HIT EM WHERE IT HURTS AND IF IT IS ABOUT MONEY THEN THAT IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW IT IS NOT AND NEVER HAS BEEN ABOUT SAFETY ! Wake up driver’s and company owner’s , the government is taking over our industry and you don’t even know it and once you wake up and realize it , I hope you go out of business as a result of your ignorance . If they get their way they will monopoloze the industry and the job will no longer be any fun for anyone . You think there is a driver shortage now , just wait for the mass exodus from the industry . One last point , while I back hands free devices , if you’re caught a 1st offense fine is $2,750 !!! Are you kidding me ? No , our legislator’s and the FMCSA aren’t out of control , not at all . OOIDA should be leading this but we can’t count on them to be our voice anymore , they are too concerned with being ” politically correct ” and heaven forbid OOIDA lose their good standing in DC by supporting a nationwide shutdown ! The idiot’s that flood the industry today is truely a shame because we are at a point now where the vast majority just doesn’t care and won’t stand for anything anymore these day’s .

  • Stray-Cat

    While I agree with a lot of What Dan Wyllie says here. I think there are a couple of points that need to be set straight.
    To begin with. The FMCSA has been over regulating the trucking Industry for Decades.
    That is not, Obama’s Fault. He was still learning Algebra, when the FMCSA, was first emblazoned with the power of,” God over the Trucking World”.
    I can say, that, While a Shut Down, would highlight The power and Importance of the Trucking Industry. It will Never happen. We, Free thinking American Truckers, are far too selfish to think about the good of the whole Industry, instead of our own pocket!
    The only real solutions to the problem are.
    1. To elect, or appoint, a real steering wheel holding Independent Trucker. Who has at least a couple decades of experience over the road, to the Office.
    2. Flush out the Toxic Trash that walks the halls of Congress and the Senate.
    Those that Have no respect for anyone or anything other than the most lucrative offer.
    Those that have no clue why they are there!
    Those that sell their Patriotism, to the highest bidder!
    Those that don’t care whether, America, lives or dies, as Long as they get their cut first!
    Those that can’t even hold a reasonably honest debate without, Disrespecting, everyone involved. Including the” VOTERS”, who put them in their Almighty place of,” SERVANT “TO” THE PEOPLE”.
    3. Stop blaming everybody else for, the cowardice, that WE all share..
    After all!
    We are the reason they are all in office.
    We are the ones that,” Can’t’ muster the Intestinal Fortitude to ACT. Even if it means we suffer with our own inability to change the situation.
    Words are Just WORDS. Here is one we should all invest some time in
    Or Shut-Up

  • mike

    If weight is increased then you know they will raise all the road taxes plus . Pay won’t go up to justify the outcome . strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.