Should the permitted weight of tractor trailers traveling on the Interstate be increased? Would such a measure lead to increased costs or conversely save money and promote a healthier environment? These are questions being posed after the Safe and Efficient Transport Act of 2013 came to light last month, gaining 11 co-sponsors.
Rep. Mike Michaud introduced the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2013 on February 12th, once again, encouraging a weight increase on Interstate trucks from 80,000 lbs. to 97,000 lbs after being denied passage by Congress for the past four consecutive years. 1
According to the bill, also known as H.R. 612, “a State may authorize a vehicle with a maximum gross weight that exceeds all maximum gross weight otherwise applicable under subsection to operate on the Interstate System routes in the State, if”:
-“The vehicle is equipped with at least 6 axles,” with each axle not exceeding a weight of 20,000 lbs. 2
-“The weight of any tandem axle on the vehicle does not exceed 34,000 lbs.” 2
-“The weight of any group of 3 or more axles on the vehicle does not exceed 51,000 lbs.” 2
-“The gross weight of the vehicle does not exceed 97,000 lbs, including enforcement tolerances.” 2
The American Trucking Associations quickly showed their support for the increase. According to the ATA, heavier trucks would result in the following:
-Promote safety by reducing congestion via fewer trucks on the road due to more products being carried on a single truck as well as trucks not having to take side roads to avoid weight regulations. 3
-“Save fuel while reducing emissions,” due to fewer trucks. 1
-Help decrease driver shortage by transporting more shipments/weight per truck.
Idaho has already increased their truck weight on roads to 129,000 lbs. in a bill approved last Thursday.
Although some groups are embracing the bill, others believe that it will lead to problems.
According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, “While proponents talk about savings from heavier trucks, for the small business truckers that make up more than 90 percent of the trucking industry, heavier trucks only mean higher fuel, repair, and equipment costs, including the likelihood of spending tens of thousands of dollars on new trailers designed to haul the heavier weight simply to remain competitive.” 1
In your opinion, should the weight limit on trucks be raised? What do you find to be the consequences (positive or negative) of heavier trucks?
For a copy of the H.R. 612: Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2013 bill visit