Heavy Weight Fight

Mar 31, 2009

Congress spars over commercial truck size and safety

It’s no secret Americans are generally overweight and now, according to some legislators, so are our commercial payloads.

Fleetowner.com reports that two national legislative bills on truck capacity will be debated in U.S. Congress in the coming weeks.

The first is aimed at, among other things, reducing the effects of heavier hauls on already burdened bridges and highways, which are put to the test daily by today’s plus-sized trucks.

House bill H.R. 1618, titled the “Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act” (SHIPA) was introduced by March 19 by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) with Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) as the lead minority cosponsor.

It seeks to “freeze current truck size and weight limits for all states to those rules on the books as of June 1, 2008 – limiting truck trailer size to 53-ft long and weight limits to 80,000 lbs., unless a state allowed longer and heavier trucks to operate on its roads as of that date.”

In the opposite corner, the “anti-SHIPA” legislation is driven by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), which appears to be more of an “opt-in” system for states that can confidently handle higher weight limits on commercial vehicles.

Todd Spencer, executive VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (and SHIPA supporter) was quoted as saying: “Many times, a 40-ft. container can move what’s being shipped in 53-ft. containers today,” he said.

According to Jake Jacoby, executive director of the lobbying group Americans for Safe and Efficient Transportation (ASET), commercial vehicle miles traveled will double over the next 20 years, while only 6% to 8% of the money of the president’s stimulus bill is being spent on increasing transportation capacity.

Who will win? Until this is settled, at least the guys patching up those potholes and overpasses will burn off plenty of calories.

Photo copyright of
Ryan Hoist