Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heavier trucks advocated in more places than Maine and Vermont

Shippers and trucking companies are keeping up the pressure to allow bigger, heavier, longer trucks on the highways. Before the end of the year, Maine and Vermont politicians want Congress to make permanent a "pilot program" allowing heavier trucks in those states.

For a long time now, about 20 states have allowed longer-combination vehicles on their highways. Last time we checked, Idaho, North Dakota and Washington state all let heavy trucks (100,000 pounds or more) on their highways. Politicians in Ontario, Canada, want to make permanent a "pilot program" to allow tractors to pull two 53-foot trailers. The "pilot program" expires on Nov. 30.

Earlier this month, South Carolina changed its permitting rules to let  trucks haul international shipping containers weighing up to 100,000 pounds, according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal. More interesting than the Business Journal's story was J. Stewart's comment:
Ask Ms Florida how well she is doing after being involved in a horrific accident with a loaded refrigerated container (MARESK LINE). A forty foot container stacked inside to the ceiling with avocados toppled over on her Lincoln on I-95 outside Miami. Yes, it was a Florida permitted overweight(95,000lbs)import load. This is just one of hundreds of examples why not to increase the weight on these shipping containers.You'll see much more of this type accident in Carolina when a trucker has to make an emergency maneuver in heavy traffic on I-26 with an over weight box mounted on a junk marine chassis. I know first hand from experience. I have hauled many of these containers to & from the ports loaded with everything from frozen chickens, citrus, forestry products, to being overloaded with hazardous materials. Many scale out at well over the one-hundred thousand pound permit allowed on the highway. Get ready for the roadway carnage brought to you by the ports greedy shipping customers / profit verses your family's life. I have pulled this ocean freight out of the ports since the early seventies (that's when the legal gross weight was (73,280lbs) but then everyone wanted to change that to (80,000). Guess what - these are the same type chassis that were used back thirty-five years ago with no improvement ( actually many of the so-called new chassis are assembled with axle parts over twenty-five years old. They're just refurbished & tagged as a "reconditioned chassis". The chassis owners to this to get around government regulations requiring installation of newer braking systems on brand new factory equipment & without paying federal new heavy vehicle taxes. Allowing overloaded containers is a huge mistake for SC citizens, our roadways, & any trucker who will have to pull this dangerous increase in weight. BTW: When they say permitted for 100,000 gross the shippers will exceed that rating every chance they get just like they do on the 80,000 lb limit now. Check the port records to find out how many container are already over loaded now. This should tell you their track record. I witness even the short twenty footers loaded with 64,000 lb of just inside cargo weight policed by the very same folk that are asking for bigger increases.
The Teamsters have long opposed heavier trucks because they're dangerous, they ruin roads and bridges and they require fewer drivers. General President Hoffa wrote last year that
Highway drivers are never happy to see a 120,000 pound, six-axle rig come barreling along side them at 70 mph. The reason is simple: they’re dangerous.