Trucking Industry Stakeholders Oppose Weight Limit Increases
We have written about some of the contents of the SHIP-IT Act before, namely the tax incentives that are intended to boost the total number of truckers on the road. One other inclusion in the SHIP-IT Act is the testing of an increase on the weight limit that a big rig is allowed to be, increasing from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds. A coalition called the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks has formed to oppose this potential change. Who is spearheading this? Soccer moms with nothing better to do? In reality, some of the heaviest hitters amongst the Coalition include the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
This fact seems counterintuitive: why would trucking industry leaders be against the idea of hauling more freight with each truck, which will invariably lead to better wages and more profits for fleets and drivers respectively? The answer is simple: infrastructure.
“By any measure, our roads and bridges need continued repair, rebuilding and investment,” the Coalition said in a letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It does not take an expert to see that the Coalition has a point, and that an increase in weight on the roads would further exacerbate the problem of potholes and potential bridge collapses.
“As we look to rebuild our roads and bridges, allowing heavier and longer trucks would only make matters worse,” the Coalition continued in its letter. “The U.S. Department of Transportation studied the impact of various longer and heavier truck configurations on interstate and U.S. highways and found that the additional cost of damage to both roads and bridges would require billions of dollars in new federal spending, adding to our budget deficit.”
We are inclined to agree with the Coalition: as great as the benefits of added weight would be for the economy were the United States’ infrastructure capable of handling it, the costs of heavier trucking with a system incapable of supporting it would be a net negative on the economy.
If the trucking industry wants to be able to haul more freight with each individual truck, the first thing it needs to do is advocate for the repair of our crumbling infrastructure, then for its augmentation so that it can better handle 91,000 pounds running across it.
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