On December 18, the United States Department of Transportation put on a webinar to present their progress in studying the raising of federal Semi truck trailer size and weights, and an opportunity for interested parties to provide feedback. The study will find out the impacts of changing the standard Semi truck trailer weight size to a “6 axle 97,000 lbs truck.”, and be presented to Congress in November 2014. Importantly, potential changes in amounts of freight traffic that will be attracted to trucks from railways and ships. Also, impacts on pavement, bridges, and safety and compliance are part of the project.
Whether an increase in truck weights will move items from rail to truck, will no doubt be one of the most contentious issues of the study. This would in fact mean that more freight would be moved on heavier trucks.
There will also be more types of trucks studied than just the 97,000 lbs 6 axle semi truck trailer. The study is also examining a lighter semi truck trailer at 91,000 lbs, and a B train combination that would allow for two 33’ trailers, as opposed to 28’, and finally a triple combination that would have a weight of either 105,500 lbs or 129,000 lbs.
The fact of the matter is that US federal weight laws today are some of the most restrictive in comparable countries, and even when comparing to what takes place in some states. Semi truck trailer weights in Michigan go up to almost double the federal limits. It is time for the United States to join the rest of the world in allowing more reasonable trucks on the highways. Especially to improve the productivity of truck drivers as hours of service regulations are reducing the hours that drivers can work.