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Shippers group again calls for increases to truck size and weight limits


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Commercial Carrier Journal / July 7, 2015

A national organization representing shippers is once again calling on Congress to approve larger, heavier trucks on U.S. highways.

In a letter sent Monday, July 6, the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) ­­calls attention to a Department of Transportation (DOT) study it says “… provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on Interstate System highways.”

It also takes a swipe at the DOT leadership, which said the study contained insufficient data and recommended against truck size and weight limit changes.

The coalition supports increasing the federal vehicle weight limit to 97,000 pounds for vehicles equipped with an additional sixth axle. A group of some 200 businesses and organizations, the coalition says it sees vehicle weight reform as a way to improve the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and shippers.

In its letter to Congress, the coalition says:

“The actual study data provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on Interstate System highways. This is the real message for Congress, despite the fact that U.S. DOT political leadership, after three years of study and 1,100 pages of released data, wrote a cover letter citing insufficient information and recommending against any changes in truck size and weight regulations. While the Administration could not find a political path to support truck weight reform, we urge members of Congress to review the study findings for themselves and allow carefully crafted reforms in vehicle weight regulation to move forward.”

According to the CTP, the DOT study shows that six-axle trucks the same size as those with five axels “… maintain key truck safety characteristics, including safe stopping distances and turning capability, providing every reason to believe they will perform safely if allowed the chance to operate more widely than they are today.”

It also says the study proves that allowing larger trucks on the nation’s highways will not undermine U.S. railroads. The CTP’s letter says “… a small amount of freight diversion is more than offset by the projected higher overall growth of freight volume for all modes.”

Other benefits of six-axle trucks, according to the CTP, include:

•reduced vehicle miles traveled
•lowered total national logistics costs
•reduced pavement restoration costs with manageable bridge impacts
•less fuel consumption
•fewer emissions

In criticizing the DOT, the coalition’s letter says:

“The Administration has unfortunately adopted a kind of ‘Catch 22’ approach to the badly needed modernization of our nation’s truck weight laws by opposing the wider use of the six-axle vehicles that would result in the greater data that it says is needed.

In justifying its call for inaction, the Administration also plucked findings from the ‘statistically insignificant’ data pointing to a higher crash rate for six-axle trucks compared to five-axle trucks operating over a limited time period in one state.

What is not said in the letter, but is included in the technical report, is that there were no fatalities involving six-axle trucks in that state during that period, which was not the case for the five-axle trucks.”

The coalition also said it supports “… an approach to truck weight reform that is not preemptive. We simply want to give individual states the option to allow six-axle vehicles at heavier weights on their Interstate System highways. Nothing in our approach reduces state and local authority over truck weights on so-called ‘local’ roads and bridges.”

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Coalition urges Congress to act on truck weight reform

Fleet Owner / July 7, 2015

The Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of nearly 200 of the nation’s manufacturers, shippers, carriers and allied associations, urged members of Congress to review data from the U.S. DOT’s Comprehensive Truck Size & Weight Limits Study and then take action to reform interstate vehicle weight limits for six-axle trucks.

CTP sent a letter to members of Congress as well as a one-pager highlighting key data from the U.S. DOT’s technical findings, which demonstrate the safety of heavier, six-axle trucks, as well as reduced logistics costs, pavement life-cycle costs, fuel costs, vehicle miles traveled, congestion, and emissions associated with their use.

In his letter to Congress, CTP Executive Director John Runyan writes: “The actual study data provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on Interstate System highways. This is the real message for Congress, despite the fact that U.S. DOT political leadership, after three years of study and 1,100 pages of released data, wrote a cover letter citing insufficient information and recommending against any changes in truck size and weight regulations. While the Administration could not find a political path to support truck weight reform, we urge members of Congress to review the study findings for themselves and allow carefully crafted reforms in vehicle weight regulation to move forward.”

In its letter and accompanying one-pager, CTP cites U.S. DOT technical findings that six-axle trucks weighing either 91,000 or 97,000 pounds maintain key braking and handling characteristics, allowing them to safely ship more freight and reduce vehicle miles traveled, logistics and pavement costs, and environmental impacts. The technical report also finds that the use of these vehicles would lead to a minimal diversion of freight from rail to truck, which would be more than offset by projected freight rail growth.

CTP also notes that while the U.S. DOT justified its call for inaction by referencing a higher crash rate for six-axle trucks operating over a limited time period in the state of Washington, the technical report also shows that none of those accidents involving six-axle trucks were fatal. In contrast, the study found that five-axle trucks weighing 80,000 pounds (the current federal gross vehicle weight limit) were involved in 10 fatal crashes in Washington State during the same period.

CTP said it supports carefully crafted truck weight reform giving each state the option to set higher interstate weight limits only for trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five. Because one-quarter of U.S. truck shipments meet the current interstate weight limit with space left in the trailer, this proposal would allow companies to meet demand with fewer vehicles and make the U.S. transportation network more efficient, especially as gross domestic product and population continue to grow, according to CTP.

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