Policy Reforms Needed for Strong Transportation Infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that by 2025, the amount of freight shipped throughout the U.S. will increase by 87 percent from 2000 levels.

Under the current federal weight limits, truck space is not fully utilized, resulting in operational and shipping inefficiency. In addition, there are not enough drivers to fulfill shipper’s demands. Our national highway system will not be able to accommodate the coming surge in freight if shipping is not made more efficient.

Truck weight limits on the national highway system (interstates) have been frozen at 80,000 pounds for over 30 years, keeping heavier trucks off the interstates – the safest place for truck shipments. However, more than 90 percent of states allow heavier trucks to access some or all state and local roads.

AF&PA wants Congress to authorize a truck weight pilot program with the following criteria:

  • 10 states allowed to opt in

  • A truck configuration of 91,000-pound, 6 axle and 6 sets of brakes – safer than what is currently on interstates

  • Bridge formula compliant trucks

  • States determine where the 91,000-pound 6 axle configuration should be allowed

  • States collect data in partnership with U.S. DOT

States have conducted successful truck weight pilot programs in the past:

  • A ten-year pilot in Idaho found there was no heightened safety risk with increased weights, and the U.S. DOT concluded that six-axle trucks had better braking.

  • A report on a 20-year pilot program in Maine attributed a 70-year low in road fatalities to increased truck weights.

  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation found that the addition of a sixth axle created a 37 percent reduction in road wear and an overall reduction in the number of trips needed to transport products.

Bringing trucking into the 21st century will make roads safer for families, minimize congestion on state and local roads and reduce infrastructure costs, saving taxpayer dollars.