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Increasing the maximum weight for tractor trailers has been a topic in the trucking industry for several years now. Back in 2015, Congress denied an amendment seeking to allow states the opportunity to raise weight requirements for tractor trailers from 80,000 lbs to 91,000 lbs. In agreement with the decision was the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), which explained that “increasing weight limits would prevent small carriers from staying competitive with the larger carriers who would be able to afford the new 6-axle trucks.” 1
Using the argument that increasing the weight would improve efficiency and reduce congestion, such a proposal has appeared numerous times since, either as an add-on or standalone ruling. 2 While not currently up for Congressional debate, the TCA, once again, stressed its opposition in a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Appropriations.
As the letter stated, if weight limits were increased, those “maximum capacities become the norm…forcing carriers to adjust their equipment to accommodate 91,000/6 despite the fact that they will likely never recoup the costs of the adjustment or haul loads requiring the 6th axle,” which can range from $3,000 to $4,800 a trailer, not to mention higher operating costs for brakes, tires, etc. 2,3
With the Dec. 10, 2017 compliance date nearing for carriers to replace paper logs with electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track hours-of-service, expected to prevent fatigue, save over $1 million in revenue, and increase efficiency during inspections, analysts are preparing shippers for rate increases which are no doubt to result from the implementation.
With the industry already short nearly 50,000 drivers and expected to reach a driver shortage of 175,000 by 2024, according to the American Trucking Associations, FTR Intel notes that the ELD mandate could further increase that number, shortening the industry 1 million drivers. 4
According to ATBS President Todd Amen, with the expected productivity decrease, rates could increase nearly 10% by mid-2018 and then level out. 5
Violation Fine Increases
As part of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015, the U.S. DOT has adjusted violation fines based on inflation, multiplying current amounts by 1.01636. 6 The increase will be effective 10 days after yesterday’s publication and takes place annually.
To view the list of increases in the Federal Register click here.