Researchers Advocate Heavier Trucks on Interstates

Heavier trucks with longer trailers than current regulations permit should be allowed on interstates, according to a Transportation Research Board report issued in May.

The report, prepared by a committee of university professors and transportation officials, said Congress should establish a federal organization to study the impact of trucks on highways, so that regulations based on facts could be established.

Proposals to increase weight and length restrictions have been opposed by owner-operators, highway safety groups and some carriers for economic and safety reasons.

The Transportation Research Board cited the economic benefits of larger trucks, and said existing federal size limits sometimes force larger trucks to bypass safe and efficient interstates and use more dangerous and damage-prone secondary roads. Also, states and Congress are granting an increasing number of special exemptions allowing larger trucks to travel on interstates, and eroding federal standards.

The report said states should be allowed to issue permits for the operation of six-axle tractor-trailers weighing up to 90,000 pounds; the current limit is 80,000 pounds. The lower weight-per-axle ratio of a six-axle truck would reduce highway wear, according to the board.

Double trailers as long as 33 feet each should be permitted, said the board; these trailers would be 5 feet longer than today’s common 28-foot doubles. The report said the longer trailers might prove more stable than shorter doubles, and would not add any problems when turning at intersections.

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