Increasing truck size, weights: It's STILL a bad idea

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 1/30/2012

Some people just never learn – especially when it comes to trucking’s big business.

Once again, the American Trucking Associations and its cohorts are launching an assault on Capitol Hill in an effort to convince lawmakers to lift the freeze on truck sizes and weights. Their propaganda is wrapped in warm fuzzy “green” and “productivity” arguments. They even have a name for their coalition that will try to convince everyone that they are all about trucking.

But, when you look closely at the membership, it’s clear that big business is the only interest being represented. Not small business truckers and certainly not the men and women who actually drive the trucks.

Sponsoring members of “Stand Up for Trucking” include the American Trucking Associations (mega carriers); Transportation Intermediaries Association (brokers); National Industrial Transportation League (industrial shippers); National Private Truck Council (private mega carriers); AgHaul (agriculture and forestry); National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (shippers); and a couple of coalitions. The coalitions round out the big-business interests in trucking with groups like the National Retail Federation (retailers); National Association of Manufacturers (manufacturers) and the International Warehouse Logistics.

It should also be noted at that the coalitions like Cleaner Safer Trucking have in their membership many of the forenamed groups – therein beefing up the numbers of groups advocating for longer, heavier trucks.

The timing for the push to increase size and weights should not go unnoticed. This week the House of Representatives will markup its version of a highway bill – which is rumored to have a size and weight provision that removes the current federal ban.

The reasons these groups support adding weight to trucks and creating longer legal combinations is nothing more than a financial interest. Because every time truck weights have gone up, the rates have not followed. Ship more, pay less. It’s that simple.

The devil, as they say, is in the details.

That’s where truckers weigh in with real world knowledge and insight.

A recent Land Line poll asked: “What is your single biggest concern with increasing the size and weights of long-haul trucks?”

The answers are telling.

  • Maneuverability                            (1.88%)
  • Low freight rates                          (13.75%)
  • Stopping distance                         (3.44%)
  • Specialized training required        (0.94%)
  • Damage to roads/bridges              (3.13%)
  • Parking                                          (2.81%)
  • All of the above                            (70.31%)
  • I don’t have any concerns             (3.44%)

That laundry list of concerns is what has small-business trucking companies and truckers alike pushing back saying “Big Trucking: Sit Down!”

This week will investigate the variety of the reasons – and the research behind them – that truckers do not endorse an across the board increase in truck sizes and weights.

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