July 7, 2015 9:30 AM, EDT

Heavier Six-Axle Trucks Pushed for Use on Interstates

Coalition for Transportation Productivity via Bloomberg News

A group of nearly 200 manufacturers, shippers, carriers and allied associations has urged members of Congress to pass vehicle weight reform legislation to allow heavier six-axle trucks on U.S. interstates.

The Coalition for Transportation Productivity disputed the Department of Transportation’s characterization of a recent federal comprehensive truck size-and-weight study that concluded limited study data did not allow DOT to recommend a policy change allowing heavier or longer trucks.

“The actual study data provides strong support for allowing trucks equipped with six axles to carry more freight on interstate system highways,” said a July 6 coalition letter sent to members of Congress. “This is the real message for Congress, despite the fact that U.S. DOT political leadership, after three years of study and 1,100 pages of released data, wrote a cover letter citing insufficient information and recommending against any changes in truck size-and-weight regulations.”

The $2.7 million Federal Highway Administration study found that 91,000-pound and 97,000-pound six-axle trucks would reduce vehicle miles traveled, reduce total national logistics costs, reduce pavement restoration costs with manageable bridge impacts and reduce fuel consumption and emissions, the group said.

In a letter to Congress when the study results were released in June, Peter Rogoff, DOT's undersecretary for policy, told Congress the agency would not be sending any size-and-weight recommendations because of a “profound” lack of data.

But the coalition said there was adequate data to suggest that heavier six-axle trucks would be safe and efficient.

“Relative to five-axle trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds, heavier six-axle trucks of identical size maintain key truck safety characteristics, including safe stopping distances and turning capability, providing every reason to believe they will perform safely if allowed the chance to operate more widely than they are today,” the letter stated.