The Agricultural Transportation Efficiency Coalition (AgTEC) has analyzed and made available eleven independent studies, affirming the safety and economic benefits of bringing US truck-weight limits closer to Canadian and European standards. The studies also quantify the relationship between truck weights and road and bridge wear. Government agencies conducted or endorsed each study, says AgTEC.
"AgTEC's proposal to raise gross vehicle weight limits on the Interstate System reflects conclusions the Federal Highway Administration and several state DOTs have reached independently," stated Richard Lewis, president of the Forest Resources Association, an AgTEC member.
AgTEC added that it strongly supports Congressman Mike Michaud's (D-ME) "Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009" (HR 1799), which would grant states the option of raising the current 80,000-pound gross vehicle weight limit on their Interstate highways to 97,000 pounds, for trucks equipped with a sixth axle, with the assessment of a new dedicated fee to support bridge repair and maintenance.
AgTEC is working to ensure the inclusion of this bill's provisions in the 2009 Highway Reauthorization Bill, which will set federal infrastructure improvement priorities for the coming five years.
AgTEC has archived the eleven studies, with summaries encapsulizing each study's highlights and relevant conclusions.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2008 Large Truck Crash Facts, for instance, documents a steady decline in fatalities associated with collisions involving large trucks over the years, from 4.58 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1975 to 1.94 in 2006.
The Wisconsin Truck Size and Weight Study, which the Wisconsin Department of Transportation published in January, concludes, "Taking into account the total bridge costs and the ability to operate on the Interstate, the most successful new configuration, in terms of net benefits, is the six-axle 98,000 [pound] semitrailer, which generates the highest savings in transport costs, safety, and congestion," adds AgTEC.
"As our country strives to rebuild our manufacturing industries, moving the basic materials that supply them as efficiently as our global competitors do will give that recovery a big boost," commented Lewis. "Independent research supports the experience of other countries that gross vehicle weight reform is both safe and practical."