Archaic US GCM under real pressure at last

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Increasing federal truck size-and- weight limits was one of the recommendations manufacturing groups sent to the Trump administration.

About 170 comments were posted to regulations.gov in response to an executive order signed by President Trump during his first week in office aimed at “streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing”.

The comments were filed to the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who must submit a plan of action to the president by the end of May.

A number of associations clearly believe the current federal limit of 80,000 lbs (36,287kg/36.3 tonne) must be raised.

For example, a joint filing from the American Forest and Paper Association (AFPA), the Beer Institute, and the Agriculture & Commodities Transportation Coalition urged the modernisation of federal truck weight limits to “make this country a more attractive site” for manufacturing. The AFPA said an increase to 91,000 lbs (41,276kg) with use of an additional trailer axle would cut as many as 1.4 million truck trips annually and reduce annual truck miles by as much as 250 million.

“This single reform has the potential to generate huge cost savings for U.S. businesses and improve the outlook for manufacturing jobs in the United States,” the groups wrote.

While they did not explicitly state their weight preference, they made multiple references to a limit of 91,000 lbs (41,276kg).

Calling transportation “one of the most significant costs” for its members, the Composite Panel Association encouraged the Trump administration to work with Congress to approve the 91,000-lb limit. It noted several states, including Wisconsin, already have changed laws to accommodate higher weights.

Domtar, a manufacturer of wood fibre-based products, requested raising the limit to 97,000 lbs (44000kg). Domtar said the current limit creates inefficiencies for companies like itself, which haul heavy paper products. It has to use half-empty trucks because the weight limit is reached long before the physical capacity of the tractor-trailer is reached”.

Current weight rules are “stuck in the last century, as they fail to account for significant improvements in vehicle safety and pavement technology,” Domtar said.

Also speaking out on truck productivity was the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to study the cost-benefit and safety analysis of both 91,000-lb (41,276kg) vehicles and twin 33-ft (10.058 metre) trailers.

John Larkin – managing director and head of transportation capital markets research for Stifel Capital Markets – noted that the need for longer and/or heavier trucks came up during his visit to the annual meeting of the National Strategic Shippers Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) last week.

“The logic to make … existing power units more productive may well overwhelm the emotional notion that 33-ft. trailers must be more unsafe than 28s (8.5344 metre),” he said in a research note.

“One participant expressed the thought that the feds should not stop with 33s but should look at other size and weight combinations that are consistent with the [federal] bridge formula (used to design and build bridges on our interstate system) and [that] therefore would not accelerate the rate of pavement and bridge deterioration.”

Larkin said the broad adoption of more far-reaching changes in truck size and weight laws would make high-quality drivers more productive, reduce the number of trucks on the road and reduce the need for new highway capacity.

Sourced from Fleet Owner – www.fleetowner.com

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