The DOT wants to better understand the safety performance of overweight vehicles -- both permitted and illegally overloaded -- so it is looking for state agencies to work with in a study of the issue.

In a notice published in the Federal Register, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says it is soliciting applications for the Specialized Heavy Vehicle Inspection Study Cooperative Agreement.

State agencies can get funding to collect safety data from roadside inspections on vehicles exceeding certain weight levels to determine if there are any associations between higher vehicle weights and motor carrier safety violations, particularly those that result in out-of-service orders.

"It's a heavy vehicle inspection program, including illegally overweight and permitted vehicles," explains Luke W. Loy with the FMCSA's Vehicle & Roadside Operations Division. "But we are looking at certain vehicle types and axle configurations. We are looking at common vehicles, not 1-ton dually pickups pulling three-axle gooseneck, or 13-axle super heavy."

Details will be provided in a Notice of Funding Availability to be released April 16 or soon after. The FMCSA intends to enter into these cooperative agreements by June 1 or as soon after as it can.