Truckers Say Raising Weight Limit Would Hurt the Little Guys

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) sent a letter to Senate and House members urging them not to increase the maximum weight freight shipping trucks are permitted to carry nationally, contending higher costs would hurt smaller carriers while benefitting only a few larger ones.

TCA’s letter opposes any renewed effort to raise the maximum weight limit to 91,000 pounds, with the addition of a sixth axle, from the current 80,000-pound standard.

Many truckers oppose the proposed 91,000 weight limit. 

Legislators who support such a measure, such as Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., who introduced a bill in 2015, say the increased weight limit would reduce congestion and increase efficiency.

TCA, though, points to the higher costs associated with adding the sixth axle as well as making the necessary trailer reinforcements and engine improvements accommodate the extra weight.

“While this change in operation attempts to improve trucking productivity on our highways, it clearly 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,” states the letter, signed by TCA President and CEO John Lyboldt.

“Most truckload carriers have a trailer to tractor ratio of 3:1... If you were a small business with 100 trucks, you’d be retrofitting 300 trailers and forced to reinvest between $900,000 and $1.5 million.”

The letter concludes, “TCA reiterates that we are opposed to the stand-alone concept of 91,000 pounds on 6 axles; however, TCA is open to any and all discussions with key stakeholders in regards to improving overall transportation efficiency and productivity on our nation’s highways.”

Others, such as The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP) have supported previous efforts to increase the maximum weight.

CTP said in 2015 that over 90% of states already allow trucks heavier than the federal weight limit to travel on state roads, often on only five axles. Increasing the federal standard, CTP said then, would allow for safer vehicles traveling on more capable Interstate highways.


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