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Dueling proposals in Congress on allowable truck weights, part 1

It's already been a month since we last posted on the subject of weight limits for trucks. In our June 13 post, we noted that some trucking industry interests want Congress to raise the limits to 97,000 pounds on six axles.

The issue remains in play. Formally, the proposed law is known as the Safe Efficient Transportation Act, or SETA for short. But whether the proposal truly promotes safety is very much in question.

In the San Antonio area and across the nation, there is concern that raising the weight limits for trucks would also raise the risk of truck accidents.

Numerous groups hold this view. Not surprisingly, they include safety advocates and transportation officials. But there are also elements of the trucking industry who are opposed to increasing the weight limits, particularly independent truckers.

If passed, SETA would allow states to raise their weight limits for trucks that have six axles rather than the usual five.

Congress is still studying the issue. Meanwhile, however, it is also faced with a competing proposal. Like SETA, the other proposal has the word "safe" in it, and it has its own abbreviation.

That abbreviation is SHIPA. This stands for Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act.

SHIPA aims to keep current limits on truck size in place. This means limiting big rigs to 80,000 pounds and 53 feet. If passed, SHIPA would not only keep in place the current prohibition of heavier trucks from the Interstate Highway System. It would also extend that prohibition to more highways, namely the 177,000 miles of roadway in the National Highway System.

In our next post, we will look in more detail at the competing proposals.

Source: Tulsa World, "Battle continues over big-rig size limits," Julie Delcour, June 30, 2013

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