Senators call for increasing truck size and weight
August 09, 2010
A piece of bipartisan legislation introduced this week pledges to increase truck weighs on the United States Interstate Highway Systems from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds and allow states to authorize the operation of heavier trucks
This bill, entitled the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA) of 2010, vows to bring more efficiency to the trucking industry and help transport goods to consumers more safely and effectively, according to its authors, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Herb Kohl (D-WI). Similar legislation introduced by Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), entitled the “Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009” (H.R. 1799), was introduced last year and had 54 co-sponsors.
SETA sets various stipulations for increasing truck size and weight, including equipping vehicles with at least six axles which would result in reduced emissions, according to a statement issued by Crapo, Collins, and Kohl. Doing this, they said, would result in reduced emissions, fewer trucks on the road, and a decrease in fuel usage, as well as leaving the decision to determine truck size and weight increases up to individual states.
“Our legislation would allow all states to have the option of increasing truck weight limits on the Interstate System,” said Senator Collins. “Keeping heavy trucks on the interstate highways where they belong, and off smaller streets, would improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, and reduce congestion, fuel use, emissions, and road damage.”
This bill received the full support of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). ATA officials said that adding a sixth axle adds additional braking capacity, preventing an increase in stopping distances, and prevents payments from sustaining more damage.
Senator Crapo noted that adding a sixth axle to trucks could save up to $14.5 billion annually in shipping costs and make U.S. goods more competitive in a global marketplace, with Canada and the Unite Kingdom, among other nations, already with higher weight limits.
The Senators also said that based on ATA estimates the trucking industry will haul about 30 percent more tonnage in 2021 than it does today. And without a weight increase, the economy will require 18 percent more trucks on the road by that time. If this bill were to become law, they maintain that the weight limit adjustment would safely reduce the number of trucks required to ship a given amount of goods.
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