Professional drivers offered their reasons why commercial truck sizes and weight limits should not be raised from current levels during a public input session this week conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation. During the hearing, commercial truck drivers said they are concerned that proposals to raise weight and size restrictions only compromise highway safety and infrastructure.
“The recent bridge collapse is a classic example of how the stability of our nation’s highways and bridges is already compromised,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). “Adding more weight to the equation is the last thing we need when states are already struggling to come up with funding for maintenance.”
An 18-wheeler struck a bridge near Mount Vernon in Washington State just before the Memorial Day holiday, sending vehicles tumbling into the Skagit River. The collapse of the bridge shut off a portion of the state’s main artery to Canada. Three people were taken to hospitals, but there were no fatalities.
Wednesday’s input session was held to fulfill requirements of the highway bill passed by Congress that orders the Department of Transportation to conduct a Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study. The study will review impacts such as safety and infrastructure, cost and effectiveness and other possible results were federal truck size and weight limits to be increased.
“Today’s session brought out complexities that have been overlooked or oversimplified,” said Spencer. “Proponents of loosening restrictions prefer to look past parking, stopping distance and lack of driver training. It’s no minor change to raise weight limits as they would like everyone to believe.”
Interested drivers or others not able to attend this week’s session online or in person can submit comments directly to CTSWStudy@dot.gov. In addition, a transcript of the presentation and a summary of the discussions will be available on the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations Web site at: www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight.