Small business truckers oppose efforts by major motor carriers and shippers to increase truck size and weight limits. Not only are there significant infrastructure and safety concerns with bigger and heavier trucks, but increases will shift costs like fuel, equipment, and insurance onto small business carriers.
Higher Costs for Small Businesses.
Higher limits will lead to higher operating and equipment costs for small business truckers. It is important to note that any size or weight ceiling soon becomes the de facto standard, forcing truckers to upgrade to remain competitive. While large fleets can absorb these increased costs or segment out a portion of their fleet to serve heavier loads, small business truckers lack that luxury. Increased costs include:
Purchasing new trailers to handle heavier weights if existing trailers cannot be upgraded. Cost will range close to $100,000 for two new trailers.
Fuel costs rise due to heavier weight. Shippers unlikely to increase compensation to cover these additional costs. Costs also rise when the truck hauls less than 97,000 lb. loads due to added weight of equipment.
Truckers must pay greater insurance premiums, more expensive repair bills, and will see their truck equipment, especially safety-critical equipment like brakes and tires, deteriorate at a faster rate. More repairs mean more down-time for the truck, pulling the small trucker off the road and from making money.
Past TSW increases have served as a reason to increase taxes and fees on all trucks, including those not operating at the new limits, and with no guarantee that the funds would be directed at improving highways. No shipper is going to feel the burden of these new costs.
Increasing Safety Challenges.
OOIDA’s members have an average of more than two decades behind the wheel and two million miles driven without a DOT reportable accident. They know that the increased weight and greater length of these vehicles results in a direct negative impact on vehicle stability, mobility, and maneuverability due to real-world operating experience – actual loads, real traffic, bad weather, poor road conditions, and steep grades.
The 6th-axle on a 97,000 lb. truck adds weight and does not solve braking problems.
Driving a heavier vehicle increases stress and impacts how the vehicle behaves around other vehicles.
There is no requirement for entry-level drivers to complete behind-the-wheel training.
Greater Infrastructure Damage.
Increasing truck size and weight limits would accelerate the deterioration of the nation's highways and bridges and increase our nation’s infrastructure deficit.
In addition to the amplified damage to roadways and bridges, the 6th axle boosts the damage to road surfaces related to “scuffing” - where the vehicle’s tires drag across the road surface when turning. This is especially common on local roads and streets when vehicles turn in and out of factories, warehouses, and truck stops.
As the size and weight of vehicles increase, the number of highways and bridges that are able to accommodate them become fewer. Factories and other locations could be cut off from truck transportation due to bridge weight limits or intersections unable to handle wider turning angles of LCVs.
The already existing truck parking shortage would only get worse as LCVs take up more parking spaces.