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Longer is better: fleet boss (July 01, 2002)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Speaking for the American Trucking Associations (ATA) at a house subcommittee hearing on highway congestion, one fleet executive recommended allowing longer, heavier trucks.Michael ...


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Speaking for the American Trucking Associations (ATA) at a house subcommittee hearing on highway congestion, one fleet executive recommended allowing longer, heavier trucks.

Michael S. Card, president of Combined Transport in Central Point, Ore., testified May 21 before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Card is chairman of ATA’s Highway Policy Committee.

Pointing out the growth in truck transport of America’s freight, Card noted that “more trucks will be travelling more miles on a highway system that will see very little capacity expansion over the next dozen years. This is not a sustainable trend, and it should not be allowed to continue.”

Road building, however, is not enough to solve the problem, he says. A “multi-front assault on congestion” should include improvements in trucking productivity, better federal funding, the elimination of bottlenecks, effective Intelligent Transportation Systems, and the encouragement of telecommuting and carpooling.

“Perhaps the most promising approach to mitigating congestion is to reduce the number of trucks on American roads,” Card says. He compared this approach to carpooling – increasing capacity without increasing road lane-miles.

In addition, he says, driver productivity could be improved by changing hours-of-service regulations. And when highway planning is done at the state and local level, the process needs to address freight needs.

Card’s testimony followed close on the heels of a U.S. Congress report also suggesting the government should consider allowing heavier trucks and longer combination vehicles on Interstate highways.

Requested by Congress as part of 1998 highway funding legislation, the report was compiled by the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board. Wrangling such as this is to be expected, according to industry observers, especially considering next year’s re-authorization debate.

According to the report, bigger vehicles would mean freight can be moved at lower costs. It even suggests federal laws may be encouraging dangerous practices in use today.

Given federal size limits, larger trucks sometimes bypass interstate highways, which the report says are the safest and most efficient roads. The result is they use secondary roads where accidents are more likely to happen and maintenance costs are higher. n


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