Truck weight reform bill reintroduced in Senate

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Updated Apr 13, 2011

Maine Heavy Trucks

Federal truck weight reform legislation that would give each state the flexibility to raise interstate weight limits has been reintroduced in the U.S. Senate. The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (S. 747) is sponsored by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Like identical companion legislation pending in the House of Representatives, SETA would give each state the option to raise interstate weight limits selectively from 80,000 pounds to up to 97,000 pounds. The higher limit applies only to vehicles equipped with six axles instead of the typical five. The additional axle would not affect truck size, but would allow shippers to use extra cargo space.

“SETA is a narrowly drawn bill that enables companies to move a given amount of product in fewer vehicles without adding more weight per tire or increasing stopping distances,” says John Runyan, executive director for the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a group of more than 180 shippers and allied associations backing the legislation.

Runyan says SETA is supported by a body of data collected from academic, state, federal and international experts who have evaluated the proposal and support the six-axle 97,000-pound configuration. He points out that SETA leaves the decision in the hands of state officials to determine if the configuration makes sense in their states.

“Trucking is a driving force for our economy and plays a critical role in moving raw materials and products from the field and factory to consumers,” Runyan says. “By making truck shipments more sustainable, SETA is projected to make highways safer, cleaner and more efficient.”

The American Trucking Associations previously has estimated that the trucking industry will haul 30 percent more tonnage in 2021 than it does today. If current weight restrictions remain the same, ATA estimates that the U.S. economy will require 18 percent more trucks on the road driving 27 percent more miles than they do now. Runyan says SETA would help correct this imbalance by allowing shippers to reduce truckloads, fuel, emissions and vehicle miles traveled for each ton of freight shipped.

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The House version of SETA, H.R. 763, was reintroduced in February by Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Michael Michaud (D-Maine).