OOIDA: Move to increase truck weight 'dangerous and unnecessary'

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 9/22/2015

Increasing truck weight to 91,000 pounds is ‘alarming and shows a lack of understanding’ of the trucking industry and is ‘dangerous and unnecessary’ according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston penned a letter to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to Rep. Reid Ribble’s bill attempting to up existing truck weight limits to 91,000 pounds.

The Wisconsin Republican, serving the home district of trucking giant Schneider, introduced legislation in early September that could end up as an amendment or provision in the next multiyear highway bill being put together by House lawmakers. The legislation is being backed by a coalition of 200 large motor carriers, shippers and manufacturers.

Already on the record against any increase to truck weights, Johnston laid out the Association’s unwavering opposition in his letter to the House membership. He detailed the long-standing reasons why increasing truck weights would actually make the highways less safe.

“This is an ill-conceived policy, which will have negative impacts on both the safety of our highways and the efficiency of freight movement across the country,” Johnston wrote.

“Research indicates that any increase in allowable truck weight will actually make highways less safe and place additional burdens on our overstressed infrastructure,” he continued. “This legislation is particularly troubling considering the absence of a national driver training standard. To think that Congress would increase truck weights before moving forward with driver training standards is both alarming and shows a lack of understanding of the industry.”

Educating members of the House on the dynamic of the trucking industry, Johnston pointed out that small-business truckers account for nearly 92 percent of the trucks on the road. Statistically, that group is also the safest on the road.

“OOIDA members are the men and women who see the impacts of road wear and tear every day.  We know first-hand the experience and knowledge it takes to safely operate a truck and understand the impact that heavier trucks will have on our nation’s roads,” Johnston wrote. “It takes a lot of braking power and extensive training to safely operate these vehicles.”

Further illustrating the safety concerns with increasing the allowable weight on trucks, Johnston pointed out that trucks carrying more than 80,000 pounds have 20 percent more brake violations as well as overall higher violations – including out-of-service violations – when compared to trucks at or below current weight limits.

Johnston moves on to the state of the nation’s highways.

“Heavier trucks place tremendous strain on our infrastructure. A recent study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration determined that almost all bridges on the national interstate system are not rated nor built to handle heavier trucks,” Johnston wrote.

“Small-business truckers are the veterans of the road who are the most skilled, most experienced, and most capable. OOIDA membership does not support allowing heavier trucks on the road. Legislation increasing truck weights is both dangerous and unnecessary.”

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