Trucking Industry Urges Congress to Allow Longer TrucksAugust 28, 2018
As more consumers are turning to online retailers for everything from groceries to electronics, the trucking industry is hoping that Congress will modify an existing law that limits the size and weight of large trucks that transport packages to consumers across the country.
For trucks and trailers in the “less-than-truckload” class, the regulations state that twin tandem trailers that are hitched together must be 28 feet long or less, and weigh no more than 80,000 pounds. However, a new truck design, known as the “Twin 33,” offers a range of benefits, including cost reductions, reduced traffic, and lower carbon emissions.
The Twin 33 has two 33-foot trailers hitched together, and is already in use in certain states, including Florida. This type of truck is used to transport things like Amazon boxes, as opposed to pallets of goods that would be delivered to a big box store like Target or Walmart.
Industry officials report that this new class of truck could increase the capacity per delivery by 18 percent. Considering the high cost of shipping, delivery companies like FedEx are eager to put these trucks on the roads.
Addressing Concerns Over Larger Trucks
There are concerns associated with the increased truck size, and the impact it will have on the roads and the environment. However, truck companies say this is not an issue, since they are not trying to increase the 80,000-pound weight limit. In fact, twin trailers often fill up with boxes before they reach their weight limit, they claim.
Safety is another concern, with some questioning whether the increase in truck size will result in more truck accidents. Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx, provided testimony to Congress stating that Twin 33s performed as well, if not better than, the other trucks in the class on things like static rollover threshold and load transfer ratio.
According to a safety expert and consultant, modern trucks come equipped with improved safety technology like forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking, lessening the potential hazards. A study conducted by the same safety expert also found that fewer miles would result in a reduction in carbon emissions, as well as fewer truck accidents.
Another concern is that the Twin 33s would have a significant impact on the regional rails, who are threatened by the increased competition the trucks will put on their business.
The House appropriations bill includes a provision on the twin 33s, however, the Senate bill does not. Senators in states like Mississippi have opposed twin 33s because of the regional rails in their states.
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