Heavyweight trucks allowed in ring?

News AASHTO Journal June 17, 2002
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A new study mandated by Congress has called for the creation of a Commercial Vehicle Institute and a federal pilot program that

A new study mandated by Congress has called for the creation of a Commercial Vehicle Institute and a federal pilot program that would allow trucks to exceed current federal weight limits under certain conditions.


The mandate for the study was included in the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and directed the Secretary of Transportation to examine regulations governing truck weights, lengths and widths and recommended revisions. In response, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) has now released its report, titled "Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles."


The report does not contain any new analysis of the impacts of trucks on highways, nor does it recommend any changes to axle weights.


In his preface to the report, James W. Poirot, a former chairman of CH2M Hill who chairs the committee responsible for developing the report, described it as complementary to U.S. DOT's 2000 publication, "Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study." The TRB study, said Poirot, "has not produced new quantitative estimates of the impacts of changes in the regulations." It does offer recommendations but not on the "optimum set of federal set of federal size and weight limits." Instead, its findings relate "primarily to the process by which federal regulations are established and the relationship between the federal and state governments in regulating truck size and weight."


Some of the conclusions contained in the report are:


* Opportunities exist to improve the efficiency of the highway system by reforming truck size and weight regulations, possibly allowing larger trucks to operate;


* Federal regulations exist to facilitate safe and efficient freight transportation, establish highway-design parameters and manage consumption of public infrastructure;


* Changes in truck size and weight, together with changes in the management of the highway system, offer the greatest potential to improve functioning of the system;


* Past studies have not adequately estimated the effect of changes in truck weights on bridge costs;


* It is not possible to predict the outcomes of regulatory changes;


* Research is needed to examine the safety consequences of changes in size and weight regulations; and


* Current monitoring of violations of regulations is unsystematic and should be improved so that the effectiveness of enforcement can be evaluated.


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