TCA to Congress: Keep 80,000-pound truck-weight limit in place

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TCA says its open to discussing options to improve highway efficiency and reduce congestion that don’t include increasing the current 80,000-pound limit.TCA says its open to discussing options to improve highway efficiency and reduce congestion that don’t include increasing the current 80,000-pound limit.

The Truckload Carriers Association has issued a letter to lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate asking them to retain the current 80,000-pound weight limit for tractor-trailers operating on U.S. roadways.

Responding to an apparent interest by legislators eyeing an increase to a 91,000-pound, six-axle limit, TCA told lawmakers in the letter that an 11,000-pound increase in the country’s truck weight limit would “only benefit a minority of carriers, while forcing the rest of the industry either to divert critical resources into these new configurations or risk becoming obsolete.”

Those in favor of the legislation, such as Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), say increasing maximum weight limits in the U.S. would boost highway safety, reduce congestion and increase trucking’s efficiency. Ribble introduced a bill in 2015 to bump the maximum weight limit to 91,000 pounds nationally.

The issue has cropped up several times in recent years in both the House and the Senate as either add-ons to larger bills or standalone legislation. It doesn’t appear any new legislation has been introduced yet regarding a weight-limit increase this Congressional term. TCA seemingly is getting ahead of the looming legislative session, during which such legislation could be in play.

TCA argues an increase in allowable weight limits and a sixth axle would become a de facto mandate for all carriers, as they would be pressed by market conditions to retrofit their equipment with a sixth axle and other necessary equipment to haul 91,000-pound loads, TCA says, to keep up with competitors.

Such equipment updates range from $3,000 to $4,800 a trailer, TCA argues, which would cost even mid-size carriers potentially millions. Upfitting would also come with higher ongoing operating costs, the trade group argues, such as on brakes, tires and more.

“Carriers are unlikely to see rate increases that fully offset the cost of moving the additional weight,” TCA argues in its letter. “Certainly no one will pay for the increased cost of fuel associated with a sixth axle, especially if it was not required for the shipment. The cost burden will fall squarely on the carrier.”

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