Fleet Management

Group Pushes Congress to Up Federal Truck Weight Limit

July 08, 2015

By David Cullen

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Image: Federal Highway Administration
Image: Federal Highway Administration

The legislative drive to allow the nationwide operation of twin 33-ft trailers isn’t the only effort under way on Capitol Hill to liberalize federal truck size/weight limits. The Coalition for Transportation Productivity is revving up its lobbying to increase the federal vehicle weight limit to 97,000 pounds for tractor-trailers equipped with a sixth axle.

CTP, a coalition of nearly 200 manufacturers, shippers, carriers and allied associations, says it "advocates for heavier-- not bigger-- six-axle trucks that meet the same safety standards as trucks currently allowed on interstates.”

To help make its case, this week the group urged Congress to review data from the Dept. of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size & Weight Limits Study and then act to enable the heavier rigs.

The coalition sent a letter by CTP executive director John Runyan to members of Congress as well as a document highlighting data from the  DOT’s technical findings that CTP said demonstrate the safety of heavier, six-axle trucks-- as well as how they would reduce logistics costs, pavement life-cycle costs, fuel costs, vehicle miles traveled, congestion and emissions.

While the letter points to positive findings within the federal report, it also takes DOT to task for how it categorized the results of its study of size/weight limits.

“The actual study data provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on Interstate System highways,” Runyan’s letter states. “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.”

In both its letter and accompanying document, CTP cites DOT technical findings that six-axle trucks “weighing either 91,000 or 97,000 pounds maintain key braking and handling characteristics, allowing them to safely ship more freight and reduce vehicle miles traveled, logistics and pavement costs, and environmental impacts.”

CTP also notes that while “DOT justified its call for inaction by referencing a higher crash rate for six-axle trucks operating over a limited time period in the state of Washington, the technical report also shows that none of those accidents involving six-axle trucks were fatal. In contrast, the study found that five-axle trucks weighing 80,000 pounds (the current federal gross vehicle weight limit) were involved in 10 fatal crashes in Washington State during the same period.”

According to CTP, it favors “carefully crafted truck weight reform giving each state the option to set higher Interstate weight limits only for trucks equipped with six axles rather than the typical five. Because one-quarter of U.S. truck shipments meet the current Interstate weight limit with space left in the trailer, this proposal would allow companies to meet demand with fewer vehicles and make the U.S. transportation network more efficient, especially as gross domestic product and population continue to grow.”



  1. 1. Richard Gaskill [ July 09, 2015 @ 04:13AM ]

    Again carriers are blowing smoke. Six axle semis will meet the standard IF the brakes are properly adjusted and with no defects. Historically, year after year nearly half the vehicles put Out Of Service at inspections have defective brakes.
    I don't see how it can be claimed a third trailer axle will not cause more road damage. One axle will scrub while turning. Anyone with any truck knowledge knows this. Most three axle straight trucks have an air bag for one axle and will lift it while turning.

  2. 2. Steve P [ July 09, 2015 @ 05:25AM ]

    I would bet that these are the same people that still want to pay a dollar a mile with fuel surcharge.the same people that wanted to have Bigger trailers with no where to park them or Docks to use that were made back when 35 foot trailers were popular.The same people that use freight brokers to help steal from the Drivers by brokerink tha load 3 or 4 times before it gets to the Truck. How about these trailers Pay a Minium of $4.00a mile Directly to the Owners Plus Pay every and all Road Use Taxes Then we will see how bad they want a 3rd Axle.

  3. 3. Jason C [ July 09, 2015 @ 07:40AM ]

    From an insurance standpoint, the cost to insure a 3 axle trailer will jump and so will cargo rates. Will the brokers pay the same low mileage rates, or will they bump them up accordingly? I guarantee that when your insurance agent goes to insure this for you, the underwriters will look at it a lot more closely. I'd be willing to be that the increased cost for the trailer and the increased insurance costs will make these six axle rigs pricy to insure. I am an insurance agent, and I hate how premiums always increase, and these will definitely increase rates.

  4. 4. Jack Lassiter [ July 09, 2015 @ 07:55AM ]

    they are already complaining about to much weight on hiihways as it is why do they want to go higher. i think that would be a saftey issue already. i think it is stupid to raise weight limits.

  5. 5. Paul [ July 09, 2015 @ 01:27PM ]

    As usual....follow the money. Who is going to come out financially better off? Certainly not the owner operator, truck driver, or small fleet owner. The brokers, trucking Giants like Werner, Hunt, and Swift. More weight means less trucks to do the same amount of work. The flatbed load of lumber, just pile it a little higher and viola....97,000# and it doesn't even look bigger. Do you think your rate as a driver will go up. Hell no,, do you think he broker is going to pay more? Hell no! Think your fuel bill will go up? Your tire bill higher? Your overhauls closer? Trust me...I have been in the heavy haul business for 40 years and I am used to 3 miles to the gallon....if these butt holes get their way, you need to get used to it too,...80,000#. Is enough!!!

  6. 6. David Williams [ July 13, 2015 @ 05:24AM ]

    How about they just raise the GVW up whatever the emissions package weights? At least we could still get standard payload without the double penalty of 1) the thousands of dollars the emissions package costs at the purchase of the truck and 2) the reduction of payable cargo weight for every load hauled.


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