There has been a lot of talk recently about the upkeep of our nation’s highways and how heavy commercial vehicles do more than their fair share of damage to the roads. Regulations about the number of wheels required per pound of weight carried are supposed to keep trucks from putting too much weight on any one section of road, thereby reducing wear and tear. Now congress has been presented with a bill, HR612, which would allow longer and heavier trucks on our highways.
The issue of wear and tear is only one of the many reasons why trucking groups like OOIDA are claiming that this change would be a terrible mistake. The main issue, as you might expect, is one of safety. Contrary to the ATA’s claim that longer and heavier trucks are someone safer, OOIDA and other industry groups assert that the laws of physics won’t change just because the super-carriers want them to. If you add disproportionately more weight to a vehicle than you do friction (in the form of more wheels), the stopping distance will increase and the maneuverability of the vehicle will decrease.
“Increasing the weight limit for trucks presents serious questions about highway safety, road and bridge damage,” Rep. Lou Barletta stated in a letter to other members of Congress.
As Rep. Barletta points out, in a time when such a significant portion of our bridges are out-of-date and can’t bear the weight of commercial vehicles, trucks shouldn’t be getting any heavier than they already are.
“While some within the trucking industry argue that the entire industry is supportive of a weight increase, the overwhelming majority of trucking, from independent owner-operators up to most fleets, does not see a benefit from increasing truck size and weights,” OOIDA President Jim Johnston wrote Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Johnston went on to write that if congress didn’t feel comfortable rejecting the bill outright, that they should at least wait until studies that have already been ordered to look into this issue are completed by the DOT. “At the very least, Congress needs a complete understanding of the issues surrounding size and weight before considering any potential change to current policies,” he said.
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