A new study claims that increases in truck weight and length would significantly improve fuel consumption, cost, congestion, distribution efficiency, and driver availability.
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study reports that benefits would be seen by increasing the gross vehicle weight (GVW) up to 97,000 pounds on a six-axle tractor-semitrailer from its current 80,000-pound maximum and boosting cubic capacity through the use of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) or specifically, two 53-ft. trailers-"turnpike doubles." The National Private Truck Council (NPTC) commissioned the study.
The report, titled "Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Larger Trucks for U.S. Businesses Operating Private Fleets," estimates a reduction in truck loads of 10 percent if the allowable weight was increased and 6 percent if LCVs were permitted. If both strategies were implemented, then the estimated reduction in truck loads from the members surveyed would be 16 percent.
The study stated that fewer shipments would result in less traffic congestion, less fuel consumption and fewer emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2 ), resulting from fewer truck trips, less congestion and fewer hours of idling. The reduction in miles per gallon due to heavier or longer trucks would be greatly offset by the significant improvement in transport efficiency (amount of fuel used per cargo unit transported) and the reduction in total miles driven from making fewer shipments, according to the study.
NPTC President and CEO Gary F. Petty says NPTC has long supported modification of federal truck size and weight restrictions to improve shipper and carrier productivity.
"While there has been ample anecdotal evidence in the private fleet community that larger trucks would mean greater productivity for the businesses operating them, there has not been, until now, a study that helps support the case for changes in the law based on an independent research analysis of a sample group of companies," Petty stated.