In a letter sent Monday, July 6, the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) calls attention to a Department of Transportation (DOT) study it says “… provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on Interstate System highways.”
It also takes a swipe at the DOT leadership, which said the study contained insufficient data and recommended against truck size and weight limit changes.
The coalition supports increasing the federal vehicle weight limit to 97,000 pounds for vehicles equipped with an additional sixth axle. A group of some 200 businesses and organizations, the coalition says it sees vehicle weight reform as a way to improve the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and shippers.
In its letter to Congress, the coalition says:“The actual study data provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on Interstate System highways. This is the real message for Congress, despite the fact that U.S. DOT political leadership, after three years of study and 1,100 pages of released data, wrote a cover letter citing insufficient information and recommending against any changes in truck size and weight regulations. While the Administration could not find a political path to support truck weight reform, we urge members of Congress to review the study findings for themselves and allow carefully crafted reforms in vehicle weight regulation to move forward.”
According to the CTP, the DOT study shows that six-axle trucks the same size as those with five axels “… maintain key truck safety characteristics, including safe stopping distances and turning capability, providing every reason to believe they will perform safely if allowed the chance to operate more widely than they are today.”
It also says the study proves that allowing larger trucks on the nation’s highways will not undermine U.S. railroads. The CTP’s letter says “… a small amount of freight diversion is more than offset by the projected higher overall growth of freight volume for all modes.”
Other benefits of six-axle trucks, according to the CTP, include:
•reduced vehicle miles traveled
•lowered total national logistics costs
•reduced pavement restoration costs with manageable bridge impacts
•less fuel consumption
In criticizing the DOT, the coalition’s letter says:
“The Administration has unfortunately adopted a kind of ‘Catch 22’ approach to the badly needed modernization of our nation’s truck weight laws by opposing the wider use of the six-axle vehicles that would result in the greater data that it says is needed. In justifying its call for inaction, the Administration also plucked findings from the ‘statistically insignificant’ data pointing to a higher crash rate for six-axle trucks compared to five-axle trucks operating over a limited time period in one state. What is not said in the letter, but is included in the technical report, is that there were no fatalities involving six-axle trucks in that state during that period, which was not the case for the five-axle trucks.”
The coalition also said it supports “… an approach to truck weight reform that is not preemptive. We simply want to give individual states the option to allow six-axle vehicles at heavier weights on their Interstate System highways. Nothing in our approach reduces state and local authority over truck weights on so-called ‘local’ roads and bridges.”