Trucking interests are divided over the issue.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has consistently opposed truck weight increases, arguing that, with limited resources, owner-ops and small trucking companies will be at a disadvantage in terms the ability to invest in new equipment and to pay higher costs for fuel, maintenance, insurance and permits.
“We certainly agree that weight and size limits of large trucks should not be increased and minimum training standards for new drivers should instead be implemented to improve highway safety,” OOIDA spokeswoman Norita Taylor told CCJ.
But the leader of a shipper-supported group that advocates for heavier, six-axle trucks characterized the “railroad-backed” campaign against a weight increase as “light on facts and heavy on heated rhetoric.”
“DOT is in the middle of a comprehensive study of truck size and weight and is reviewing a wide range of academic and empirical evidence, much of which points to the benefits of more productive vehicles. We believe the experts will determine how and where heavier, six-axle trucks can be deployed and that Congress and the states can then move forward on this sensible, proven reform embodied in the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act,” said John Runyan, executive director of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity. “Supporters of SETA continue to ask Congress to make a data-driven decision of critical importance to the safety and productivity of our nation’s highways.”
The American Trucking Associations backs the SETA bill, and Darrin Roth, director of highway operations, suggested the TRB review did not condemn the DOT study’s methodology, and would instead improve it.
“We’re glad the peer review panel has thoroughly analyzed the FHWA report and are confident FHWA will correct the errors that were identified and which could negatively affect the quality of the study,” Roth said. “Any conclusions about the veracity of the study before it has been finalized are premature, and attempts to undermine the study prior to release of final results suggest that opponents of safer, more productive trucks realize that this analysis, like all others prior, will undercut their position.”