OOIDA opposes effort to start pilot program for heavier trucks

By Greg Grisolano, associate editor

A push from a consortium of more than 80 shippers and agricultural haulers calls on Congress to establish a 15-year-long pilot program to study the effects of increasing heavy truck gross vehicle weight to 91,000 pounds.

Anheuser-Busch, Cargill, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Co. and a host of state cattle and poultry haulers associations signed on to a May 26 letter. The request asks the House Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development to consider including language in the fiscal year 2018 THUD appropriations bill to create a pilot program allowing heavier truck configurations on federal interstate highways.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to increasing gross vehicle weights on trucks. OOIDA opposes the move to increase truck weights, citing the demands that heavier trucks would place on already overburdened infrastructure, as well as additional costs to small-business truckers in terms of upgrading equipment and increased toll fees for an additional axle.

“We’ve communicated our opposition to lawmakers and will continue to do so,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Mike Matousek said. “We’re concerned about how increased weights will impact highway safety, the conditions of our roads and bridges, and the fact that drivers will haul more but get paid the same and likely be subjected to increased transportation-related taxes and fees.”

Thirty-one states allow trucks over 80,000 pounds on Federal Interstate Highways under special permits, categorical exemptions, or on designated corridors.

Citing a 2016 U.S. Department of Transportation study on Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits, the letter claims that the 6-axle, 91,000-pound configuration could lead to a 1.2-billion-mile reduction in annual vehicle miles traveled, a 109-million-gallon reduction in annual fuel consumption, and a $5.6 billion reduction in annual logistics costs for American businesses.

The OOIDA Foundation recently issued a white paper on overweight trucks, pointing out that DOT’s 2015 study found that crash involvement rate for 6-axle truck configurations in Idaho, Michigan and Washington were consistently higher than the rate for 5-axle trucks. The Foundation also pointed out that the study concluded the 6-axle configuration would negatively affect more than 4,800 bridges, costing more than $1.1 billion. LL