Heavier Weights for Same Money and Safety Concern
There are two bills that need to be discussed that are parts of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act.
One of the bills will allow the gross weight to be increased from “eighty thousand” pounds to “ninety seven thousand” pounds. Is this something that really needs to be discussed? The way the roads and bridges are now, is this really something to even consider?
They (Supporters of HR 1799, which will allow states to raise weight limits to “ninety seven thousand” pounds) say that heavier weights will mean less truck traffic, and fuel consumption. In a perfect world this might work, but not here and now. How is adding more weight suppose to be more fuel efficient? Anyone who thinks one truck hauling more weight is burning less fuel than a truck hauling the weight allowed now, is an idiot. More weight equals more fuel consumption period.
In a company I recently worked for we had trucks that grossed “eighty thousand” pounds, and we had trucks that legally hauled and grossed “One Hundred and Fifty Thousand” pounds. “Eighty thousand” pound trucks averaged about five and a half mpg the heavy trucks averaged under three mpg. This is proof that heavier trucks use more fuel.
Supporters of HR 1799 also say this will be safer, huh? An “eighty-thousand” pound truck takes almost four hundred feet to stop at fifty-five mph, now you want to add “seventeen thousand” pounds more to it? Is there a stipulation in the bill that says only experienced drivers can haul this much weight? Rookie drivers don’t have heavy vehicle experience. When you see an oversize load sign on a truck now that is not a rookie driver behind the wheel.
Let’s talk about our deteriorating infrastructure. It’s not been to long ago that the gross weight restriction was about “seventy four thousand” pounds, then in 1982 congress raised the weight up to “eighty thousand” pounds. But, we still have the same roads and bridges to contend with. After the bridges fell in Minnesota, the U.S. went on a frenzy of inspecting bridges all around the United States. According to the National Bridge Inventory there are about six hundred thousand bridges in the U.S.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) one in every eight bridges in the United States is structurally deficient. In other words, out of nearly “six hundred thousand” bridges in America about “one hundred fifty four thousand one hundred” of them are structurally deficient. That was from their last study three years ago. If you think about it for just a second, they spend way more money on bridges to make them safe and able to withstand the weights. What do you think, they do, with just the roads? Potholes and sinkholes and cracks appearing in the road pavements now tell you the roads are not able to withstand a weight increase.
Go to Michigan and drive around for a while then tell me the roads could withstand weight increases. A lot of the roads in Michigan are concrete, black-top will simply not carry the heavy loads. The roads in Michigan are also about “twenty four inches” thick of just the concrete used for the surface, and they still break and have to be replaced. Black-top roads of which most of the United States interstates are made of, are nowhere near as thick.
Those that support HR 1799 also say that a sixth axle would need to be fitted on tractor trailers in order to haul the weight safely. But, they say nothing about the trailer rails being upgraded in order to take the abuse, these trailers have a weight limit on the rails and flooring its what it is rated to haul. Simply adding another axle does NOT RAISE the rating on the structure of the trailer. It will be a “maybe it can haul it” or a “maybe the trailer will break into two pieces” kind of scenario.
Those that oppose this bill with HR 1618 that would actually freeze the current weight at “eighty thousand” pounds have many concerns. The same concerns that I just talked about plus one that hits you in the “pocket book” so to speak. Money, we are talking about shipping cost.
In a recent article from the Orlando Business Journal, Norita Taylor spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said: “Those who are pushing for this, just want to move more without paying more to the people who are hauling.” She also said: “That OOIDA opposes increasing the weight capacity for commercial vehicles because we don’t think there is any fuel efficiency benefit and we don’t believe it’s safe.”
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