OOIDA's Spencer on increased truck weights: 'Dumb idea on every level'

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 9/10/2015

OOIDA leadership fired back Thursday, Sept. 10, against a proposal by major shippers, manufacturers and carriers to increase legal truck weights to 91,000 pounds on six axles. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said the proposal is an example of bad public policy.

A group of 200 shippers, manufacturers and carriers called the Coalition for Transportation Productivity is backing a proposal by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., that could end up as an amendment or provision in the next multiyear highway bill being put together by House lawmakers.

Ribble’s proposal is dubbed the Safe, Flexible and Efficient Trucking Act, or Safe Trucking Act. The group behind the effort claims that putting more weight on trucks would lead to fewer trucks on the road and therefore make highways safer. The group also claims that the extra axle gives heavier trucks more braking power despite the added weight.

“This is a dumb idea on every level,” OOIDA’s Spencer said, “especially when you realize that at least some lawmakers are serious about trying to come up with a highway bill that actually addresses real, legitimate concerns for the country and specifically for truckers. And here we basically have a shipper group and all the spin that you’d expect in an election cycle claiming that jacking truck weights up would benefit society.”

Spencer said heavier trucks come with their own set of problems and are “clearly a self-serving proposal” by the shippers. He adds that the 91,000 pounds would just be a step toward the shippers’ goal of getting 97,000 pounds on six axles.

“If they could get the world hauled in the back of one trailer for next to nothing, they’d be all about that, and this is just another example of what would be bad public policy,” he said.

“If people want to see efficiencies improved in trucking, which is a laudable goal that needs to be embraced, you have to address the truck drivers’ time that is wasted loading and unloading,” Spencer said.

“I think it’s interesting that the proponent of this legislation doubles as the representative for one of the biggest truckload carriers in the country.”

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