MSCA Joins Coalition Letter Supporting Vehicle Weight Limit Pilot Safety Study

The Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association joins the SHIP coalition in sending the letter below to appropriators with a request for a Gross Vehicle Weight limit pilot safety study in FY 2018 appropriations.

Re: Gross Vehicle Weight limit pilot safety study in FY 2018 appropriations

Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen and Members of the Committee,

As leaders in manufacturing, agribusiness, and other industries that sustain millions of American jobs, we support inclusion in FY 2018 appropriations legislation of a limited pilot project to advance safety and infrastructure protection. The current Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) limit for Federal Interstate Highways of 80,000 lbs on 5 axles was established in 1982, prior to the standardization of anti-lock brakes on Class-8 tractors. While significant progress has been made in vehicle safety and pavement technology, it has been 35 years since the US updated GVW limits on Federal Interstate Highways. Yet, states are seeking greater flexibility for GVW limits on most roads. Currently due to exceptions in the law, 31 US states allow trucks over 80,000 pounds on Federal Interstate Highways under special permits, categorical exemptions, or on designated corridors. Furthermore, 18 states currently allow trucks at GVW greater than 80,000 lbs on non-Interstate highways as a matter of right, and all 50 states allow trucks to haul at GVW greater than 80,000 lbs on state roads under special permits, categorical exemptions, or on designated corridors.

While states have rightfully updated GVW limits to better suit their individual needs, this often means trucks hauling more than 80,000 lbs are using less ideal infrastructure thus traveling on more local roads past schools, churches, and playgrounds where pedestrians are often present. Congress should seek information to know if there are more safe, more sustainable, and more productive ways to modernize the current limit of 80,000 lbs on Federal Interstate Highways and give the states flexibility to move those loads on the safer Interstates and away from roads with pedestrians.

The government research has identified a lack of adequate data and research regarding safety implications, or benefits, of modernizing GVW limits. The 2016 US Department of

Transportation, Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limit Study (CTSWLS), Report to Congress concluded that Congressional changes in GVW limits were a matter of policy and more data and evidence would enable DOT to provide Congress with better guidance. The report specifically referenced the lack of information on the number of vehicle axles and actual loaded weight at the time of a crash. The report cited a study from 2002 that said, “the difficulty in studying actual truck weight in crash-based analyses was (previously) noted in a Transportation Research Board study.”

However, the 2016 CTSWLS included information indicating that a 91,000 lb, 6-axle GVW limit for Federal Interstate Highways could help address several of our nation’s long term infrastructure challenges, including but not limited to: safety, infrastructure maintenance costs, greenhouse gas emissions, congestion, competitiveness and productivity. Specifically, the report found that the 91,000 lb, 6-axle configuration, when implemented on Federal Interstate Highways in all 50 states, would result in:

- one foot reduction in stopping distance during braking tests when compared to the current 80,000 lb, 5-axle configuration

- 2.4 – 4.2% reduction in life-cycle pavement costs for Federal Interstate and NHS Highways

- 0.4% reduction in annual program enforcement costs

- 1.2 billion mile reduction in annual Vehicle Miles Traveled on US roads

- $358 million reduction in annual congestion costs

- 109 million gallon reduction in annual fuel consumption

- 2.4 billion pound reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions

- $5.6 billion reduction in annual logistics costs for American businesses

Given the potential benefits of modernizing the baseline GVW limit on Federal Interstate Highways to a 91,000 lb, 6-axle, bridge formula compliant configuration, we believe Congress should create an opportunity for policy makers and DOT to obtain information they need to determine if there is a correlation between GVW and serious accidents.

We respectfully encourage the committee to include language in the FY 2018 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill to create a voluntary program under which 10 states could opt-in to allowing 91,000 lb, 6-axle, bridge formula compliant trucks on Federal Interstate Highways within their borders, and collect additional safety data regarding the GVW and axle configurations of commercial trucks involved in serious accidents. To enable carriers to recoup the investment of an additional axle, this pilot should be for 15 years, which is the average life span of a commercial trailer. Such a pilot, similar to others included in previous appropriations bills, will provide critical information currently lacking but necessary to determine if significant benefits affiliated with this configuration can be realized in a way to preserve or enhance the safety our nation’s roads.

We thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request and your attention to this important issue.


Agriculture & Commodities Transportation Association

Alabama Cattlemen’s Association

Alabama Poultry and Egg Association

American Beverage Association

American Chemistry Council

American Forest and Paper Association

American Frozen Food Institute

American Malting Barley Association

American Soybean Association

Anheuser-Busch Companies

Arizona Cattle Feeders Association

Arizona Cattle Growers Association

Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association

Beer Institute

Border Valley Trading

Campbell Soup


Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

Colorado Livestock Association

Dairy Farmers of America

Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.

Florida Cattlemen’s Association

Georgia Cattlemen’s Association

Georgia Poultry Federation

Glass Packaging Institute

Graphic Packaging

Grocery Manufacturers of America

International Paper

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association

Kansas Livestock Association

Kentucky Poultry Federation

Land O'Lakes

Leprino Foods

Michigan Cattlemen’s Association


Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association

National Association of Chemical Distributors

National Barley Growers Association

National Beef Packing Company, LLC

National Carriers, Inc.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association

National Grain and Feed Association

National Milk Producers Federation

National Pork Producers Council

National Turkey Federation

Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association

North American Meat Institute

North Carolina Poultry Federation

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association

Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association

Oldcastle Materials

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association


Pacific Northwest Asia Shippers Association

Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association

PepsiCo, Inc.

Smithfield Foods


South Carolina Cattlemen’s Association

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association

Soybean Transportation Board

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

Texas Cattle Feeders Association

Texas Poultry Federation

The Coca-Cola Company

The Fertilizer Institute

The Poultry Federation (AR, MO, OK)

Tyson Foods, Inc.

U.S. Forage Export Council

U.S. Premium Beef, LLC

United Aluminum Corporation

United Fresh Produce Association

US Poultry and Egg Association

Utah Cattlemen’s Association

Virginia Cattlemen’s Association

Virginia Poultry Federation

Washington Cattle Feeders Association

Washington State Potato Commission


Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association

Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Posted: May 25, 2017