Debate heats up on longer-heavier trucks

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 6/24/2015

With a transportation spending bill set for debate in a Senate committee on Thursday, June 25, a debate over one provision that would increase the length of “pup” trailers from 28 feet to 33 feet has taken on new life.

Proponents want to increase the length of pup trailers for the less-than-truckload sector in an effort to haul more freight and, they say, take trucks off the road. The avenue for this latest push is the Senate Appropriations Committee which was set Thursday to tackle next year’s budget for transportation, housing and urban development.

The Appropriations Committee is chaired by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and the ranking member is Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

The former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Mark Rosenker, who is currently the president of Transportation Safety Group, wrote to Cochran and Mikulski this week to say that increasing pups to 33 feet would actually make highways safer because it would lead to fewer trucks being on the road.

Increasing trailer length in the LTL segment would lead to an estimated 18 percent increase in productivity and would mean “less wear and tear on our infrastructure,” Rosenker wrote, adding that it was “partisan politics and emotional arguments” that keep truck sizes and weights frozen.

OOIDA opposes increases to truck size and weight and points out that a current U.S. Department of Transportation study steered clear of recommending increases beyond the current freeze and state allowances.

It turns out the Association and the DOT are not alone, at least on the LTL portion of the size and weight argument.

The presidents and CEOs of 15 major truckload carriers including JB Hunt, Swift Transportation, Heartland Express, Celadon Trucking, Crete Carrier Corp. and USA Truck penned their own letter to Cochran and Mikulski opposing the proposed increase in trailer size.

Specifically, the letter calls for “no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws” and says that various segments within trucking remain divided on the issue.

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