A proposal by more than 80 different industry groups, primarily comprised of agricultural shippers, could see truck sizes grow and create major changes on highways and roads in the United States.
The coalition sent a letter to Congress on May 26 proposing a 15-year pilot program to study raising large trucks weight limits from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds on federal highways, according to Trucks.com, a trade site for the trucking industry. The current weight limit of 80,000 pounds was initially put in place in 1956, although there are exceptions for certain states and highways. The proposal would also add a significant change to the trucks themselves, adding an extra axle in order to help carry the extra weight.
Proponents point to many potential boons to the industry if the proposal is implemented. Among the potential benefits, driver safety is one of the largest. With fewer trucks, docks will be less crowded, taking less time to load and unload and ultimately helping drivers stick to federal guidelines of staying within the guidelines of the 14-hour workday, 11 of which is allowed for driving.
Having fewer trucks will also help the environment. Fewer trucks on the road means less pollution, which in turn will not only help clean the air, but decrease the potential of human effects on climate change. More cargo will also mean fewer runs, which will also help with potential pollution issues.
The extra axle will contribute to road safety, according to the groups. An extra axle means one foot less distance is needed to stop, which will make the trucks more maneuverable on the road.
One of the largest boons overall, however, are estimates from the industry that the proposal could save the industry roughly $5.6 billion each year.
Not Popular with Everyone
Not everyone is so optimistic about the potential changes, however. Among those questioning whether this plan would truly help the entire industry, several groups, including the main owner-operator groups and the railroad representatives, see significant issues with the plan.
One of the issues is infrastructure. While the government plans to push initiatives to help what is considered by many to be a crumbling infrastructure in 2018, opposition groups point out the fact that the extra weight will only increase wear and tear on roadways and, especially, bridges, essentially creating more new problems before the old ones are even fixed.
Another issue is pay. Owner-operator groups are concerned with whether these individuals will be compensated for the extra weight they will be hauling, as well as for the potential extra danger those weights may entail, and the additional wear and tear on the trucks. Fewer trips may save shippers money, but they ask if they will be at the expense of the independent contractors who may pay more for their own vehicles.
One of the main concerns is safety. The opposition argues that doing a live trial in 10 states, even if voluntary by the states themselves, may prove disastrous if the pilot program proves less than safe, especially to the drivers and to the infrastructure.
The program itself has not been approved yet, and there is no clear indication it ever will be. Nonetheless, the main concern for both sides should be safety – both for the drivers and for the citizens they will be driving alongside of.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, contact Billy Johnson and the Johnson Law Firm as soon as possible. Billy Johnson and The Johnson Law Firm in Pikeville, Ky., are proud to bring their experience and resources to aggressively pursue your legal needs. If you have any questions or would like to set up a consultation, contact The Johnson Law Firm online or call 1.606.433.0682.