Spencer: Increased truck weights a 'dumb idea on every level'

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor

OOIDA leadership is firing back 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 calls the proposal 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, announced

Sept. 10. 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," said Spencer, "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 says the motive is not to stop at 91,000 pounds, but to push for 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."

Separate but related, a federal study of truck size and weight is inching closer to completion. A public comment period was scheduled to end Oct. 13, and will eventually be reported to Congress.LL