Truck Weight Increase Proposal Rejected

The effort to raise the limit on truck weight, specified within the Highway Bill, was rejected last week as the House of Representatives voted 236-187 against it.

If approved, the proposal would have allowed individual states to increase the federal vehicle weight limit to 91,000 pounds (up from 80,000 pounds) for tractor-trailers equipped with a sixth axle. Representative Reid Ribble (R-WI) said that despite the weight increase, trucks would operate more safely because its mandated sixth axle would provide it with "stopping power equal to or better than that of a five-axle truck."

Ribble went onto say that the amendment's defeat was "a loss for American manufacturers, which will continue to struggle to get goods to market efficiently, and for motorists, who would have benefitted from safer, less congested highways. CTP and our member organizations will continue looking for ways to safely improve truck productivity because the facts are on our side."

The National Private Truck Council generally agreed with Ribble, stating that the measure would give states the "flexibility to safely confront highway capacity issues" by letting carriers run heavier, six-axle trucks on Interstate highways.

The Truckload Carriers Association believed that the measure would only benefit a minority of the industry. TCA argued that the cost to properly equip trailers and tractors to take advantage of the higher weight limit would not be compensated by rate increases, yet carriers would be compelled by customers to invest in the more costly equipment.

The Trucking Alliance, a coalition of trucking businesses that lobbies for safety improvements, also did not support Ribble's bill. "This legislation wasn't written to benefit trucking companies, because it would drive up operating costs, drive down truck driver wages and curtail investments in safety technologies."