Trucker input needed for study of truck size, weight

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 12/9/2013

OOIDA is urging truckers to get involved in a federal study of truck size and weight, so the Federal Highway Administration can get a clear picture of equipment costs, highway safety and the wear and tear on the nation’s infrastructure. The FHWA is hosting a webinar Dec. 18 to collect input on truck configurations, the structural demand on bridges, and other topics.

The Federal Highway Administration will host the outreach session online 1-5 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, Dec. 18, to discuss the MAP-21 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study.

Those who register can participate by phone or computer from anywhere in the country. Participants must register to get the call-in number. Registration is limited to 500. The comprehensive study is accompanied by an ongoing comment period that ends Jan. 3, 2014.

Click here to register for the Dec. 18 session, and view various documents related to the study.

OOIDA says participation from small-business truckers is crucial to balance out the input from large shippers and carriers who are pushing to increase truck size and weight on the nation’s highways.

“Proponents of bigger and heavier trucks are laser-focused on this study and absolutely will be participating. That’s why it’s so important that DOT hears directly from truckers about the real-world impacts that bigger and heavier trucks will have on their small business, on highway safety and on our infrastructure,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.

“The study is considering mode shift between truck and rail, but impacts within trucking are just as critical, especially considering that bigger and heavier trucks really only benefit the shipping community.”

Bowley says shippers argue that larger and heavier trucks will reduce their transportation costs.

“But those costs are shifted elsewhere,” Bowley says, “mainly onto the backs of small-business truckers who will use more fuel and pay higher repair bills to earn the same amount of money on a per-mile basis.”

Bowley says the public session is also a good place to raise points about the shortage of safe truck parking, access to facilities off the Interstate system, and issues related to enforcement.

The FHWA held its first outreach session in May. And the agency is planning two more sessions – both in early 2014 – as the agency prepares to submit a report to Congress in November.

“This is the second listening session FHWA has held as part of this study. The earlier session not only had OOIDA members come to Washington, D.C., to attend in person, but a significant number of truckers participated remotely,” Bowley said.

The highway law MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, mandated a comprehensive study to compare vehicle combinations and weights and their effects on the national system.

No changes to truck size and weights are allowed without congressional approval. The current limit, with a few exceptions by state or roadway, is 80,000 pounds on five axles. Those dimensions were frozen by Congress in 1982. Higher limits that existed prior to the freeze were grandfathered in the 1982 law.

Some states have approved regional increases to truck size and weight in recent years.

A federal push by shippers and large carriers called for a maximum 96,000 pounds on six axles. OOIDA fought against the push. The push did not make it into MAP-21, as members of Congress opted instead for the comprehensive study.

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