Size and Weight

Penalties should be increased on trucking companies and owner drivers who exceed allowable weight and size limits

Transportation experts estimate as many as 30% of all commercial trucks on the road today exceed federal weight limits. Not only is this damaging to the nation's highway and bridge infrastructure, but it's also dangerous. Studies show that overweight trucks are more likely to be in accidents. They also roll over more easily and need more time and distance to stop. A truck weighing 120,000 pounds needs 50 percent more space and time to stop than a truck weighing the legal 80,000 pounds.

The trucking industry, assisted by FMCSA, continues to press for increasing federal weights and height limits, arguing that allowing trucks to carry more freight will lessen the number of trucks on the road and, thereby, improve safety. Safety groups argue that allowing trucks to be heavier will shift more business their way, actually increasing truck traffic. Not to mention tearing up pavement and weakening bridges. States also are under pressure to exempt certain trucks from meeting federal and state requirements.

Currently, trucking companies found to be exceeding weight limits are slapped with minor fines. Law enforcement agencies report they are stretched too thin to do anything other than spot checks. Inspection and weigh stations are open sporadically and are easily avoided. A big increase in company and/or owner penalty would go a long way toward keeping big trucks within allowable weight limits.

For a look at recent press coverage on the issue:

Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies