Features International News — 03 July 2017

A coalition of food and agricultural haulers is pushing to supersize the weight limit for trucks in the USA.

More than 80 groups have proposed a 15-year trial which would see the maximum GVM upped from 80,000 pounds (36 tonnes) to a figure more in line with Australia, 90,000 pounds (41 tonnes).

“While significant progress has been made in vehicle safety and pavement technology, it has been 35 years since the U.S. updated GVW limits on Federal Interstate Highways,” the coalition said in its proposal to congress.

The group suggested a change in semi-truck trailer combination design to handle the extra weight. Rigs would go from a five-axle, 18-wheel configuration to a six-axle, 22-wheel architecture, stating it would improve shipping efficiency by transporting more product with fewer trucks.

According to one operator, which has 750 trucks in its fleet, the extra payload would save the company US $5.6 billion each year as well be more environmentally friendly and reducing loading dock delays, in turn reducing work-time for drivers.

“[It] will contribute to many improvements and efficiencies for the company. Increased weights will result in fewer gas emissions and less fuel consumed helping Anheuser-Busch move toward our global emission reduction goals,” said James Sembrot, Anheuser-Busch’s senior director of logistics strategy.

However, the coalition is at loggerheads with its own industry with a prominent truckers trade group claiming trucks carrying heftier cargo will put too much wear and tear on an already stressed highway infrastructure.

Director of government affairs at the Western States Trucking Association, Joe Rajkovacz, is for the change, but admits it’s a divisive topic given that a similar proposal in 2015 was rejected.

“There is resentment from those truck operators when their business model is cast by bureaucrats in Washington as being unsafe,” Rajkovacz said.

The Truck Safety Coalition is against the notion and believes infrastructure needs to be improved before weight limits are lifted.

“Pilot programs are not a smart way to go about increasing truck weights because you are putting anyone at risk that’s part of this pilot and once it gets started, it’s almost impossible to ever end it,” said spokesperson John Lannen.

“You have an increasing bad trend in crashes and there really isn’t the data to support increasing truck weights,” he said.

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