A commercial trucking association has sent a letter to U.S. legislators urging them to retain the current 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks and abandon any bills that would allow carriers to increase the national truck weight limit to 91,000 pounds.
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) says it is open to discussing ways to improve efficiency and productivity within the commercial trucking industry, but warns that a weight limit increase would put many smaller carriers out of business.
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) introduced a bill in 2015 to raise the national weight limit by 11,000 pounds and a sixth axle to bear the additional weight, arguing that the allowance would not only boost efficiency, but would improve highway safety by reducing the number of tractor-trailers on the road and easing congestion.
So far the bill has failed to gather the support it needs, but some lawmakers are feeling emboldened under the Trump administration to push legislation through without careful consideration of its consequences.
According to Commercial Carrier Journal, “TCA argues an increase in allowable weight limits and a sixth axle would become a de facto mandate for all carriers, as they would be pressed by market conditions to retrofit their equipment with a sixth axle and other necessary equipment to haul 91,000-pound loads, TCA says, to keep up with competitors.”
Such a move would “only benefit a minority of carriers, while forcing the rest of the industry either to divert critical resources into these new configurations or risk becoming obsolete.”
Equipment updates would cost $3,000 to $4,800 per trailer, costing even mid-size carriers potentially millions. The extra weight would also generate higher operating and maintenance costs for brakes, tires, fuel, and more.
Moreover, TCA says that the increased weight would not translate to sufficient rate increases. “Carriers are unlikely to see rate increases that fully offset the cost of moving the additional weight,” TCA claims in its letter, according to CCJ. “Certainly no one will pay for the increased cost of fuel associated with a sixth axle, especially if it was not required for the shipment. The cost burden will fall squarely on the carrier.”
Source: Commercial Carrier Journal