New legislation introduced in the Senate would allow state Departments of Transportation to raise interstate weight limits to 97,000 pounds for trucks with six axles instead of five.
Under the new bill, states can opt to allow six-axle trucks to carry up to 97,000 pounds.(Photo by Michelin)
Under the new bill, states can opt to allow six-axle trucks to carry up to 97,000 pounds.(Photo by Michelin)

The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act was recently unveiled by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The rule would allow shippers to use extra cargo space and reduce truck loads, fuel, emissions and vehicle miles traveled, according to the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of more than 160 shippers and allied associations. An identical bill is being considered in the House of Representatives.

"This bipartisan legislation gives states the option to increase interstate truck weight limits in a safe manner so that we can get more goods from the farm or factory to consumers in fewer trips and fewer vehicle miles," said Crapo. "Many trucks now hit the federal weight limit with space left in their trailers. The U.S. DOT estimates that the use of six-axle trucks could save as much as $14.5 billion in shipping costs annually. SETA will also make U.S. goods more competitive in the global marketplace, as Canada, the United Kingdom, and many other countries already have higher weight limits."

The American Trucking Associations issued a statement in support of the bill.

"ATA supports a number of reforms to federal truck size and weight regulations as part of our Sustainability Initiative," said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. "More efficient trucks, like those allowed under this legislation, will significantly reduce the trucking industry's carbon output."

"The American Trucking Associations estimates that the trucking industry will haul 30 percent more tonnage in 2021 than it does today," said John Runyan, executive director of CTP, which also applauded the new rule. "If current weight restrictions remain the same, that means our economy will require 18 percent more trucks on the road driving 27 percent more miles than they do now. The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act would ease the burden on our roads by adjusting weight limits to safely reduce the number of trucks required to ship a given amount of goods."

The House version was originally introduced by Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). It currently has 54 co-sponsors.