Friday, August 6, 2010

US Truck Group Supports New Freight Vehicle Legislation

Heavier Trucks Require Extra Axle for Safety
Shipping News Feature

US – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) have come out strongly in support of a new bill introduced on Wednesday by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (Republican - Idaho), Susan Collins (Republican - Maine) and Herb Kohl (Democrat -Wisconsin.). The “Safe and Efficient Transportation ACT (SETA) of 2010, S. 3705 will allow states to authorize the operation of more efficient commercial trucks, resulting in safer highways, cleaner air and less costly freight transportation. Identical legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 1799, currently has 54 co-sponsors.

The bill authorizes states to allow the operation of trucks on the Interstate Highway System with a gross weight of 97,000 pounds. Current law limits the weight of 5-axle trucks traveling on the Interstate System to 80,000 pounds. The legislation requires that trucks operating above 80,000 pounds must add a sixth axle to compensate for the extra weight. The extra axle adds additional braking capacity, preventing an increase in stopping distances, and prevents road surfaces from sustaining more damage.

The ATA believe that existing restrictions on truck weight limits constrain the trucking industry's efforts to reduce crashes, reduce carbon output per tonne carried and assist US competitiveness in the global marketplace. They further stress that US weight limits are the lowest in the developed world, putting American businesses at a distinct disadvantage.

Operation of these more efficient vehicles will allow trucking companies to deliver the nation’s freight while making fewer trips. The guaranteed result will be a reduction in the number of truck-involved crashes, less fuel use – and thus reduced emissions and carbon – and less congestion on highways. Fewer miles travelled also means less pavement damage, lowering highway maintenance costs.

Any additional bridge costs will be covered by a higher federal fee that the vehicles authorized to operate under this legislation will be required to pay, and which will be dedicated to subsidise investments in those states that authorize use of the heavier trucks. It is a common misconception that ‘Juggernauts’ cause more damage to roadways and are inherently more dangerous, a view which has been disproved scientifically and by the experience in other countries.

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