Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles

SPECIAL REPORT 267

Committee for the Study of the Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles

Transportation Research Board

OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Transportation Research Board
Washington, D.C.
2002
www.TRB.org



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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles SPECIAL REPORT 267 Committee for the Study of the Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles Transportation Research Board OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C. 2002 www.TRB.org

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 Transportation Research Board Special Report 267 Subscriber Categories IA planning and administration IV operations and safety VIII freight transportation (multimodal) Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, National Research Council, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax 202-334-2519; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This report was sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement No. DTFH61-99-X-00053. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for the Study of the Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles. Regulation of weights, lengths, and widths of commercial motor vehicles / Committee for the Study of the Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles. p.cm.—(Special report/National Research Council, Transportation Research Board ; 267) ISBN 0-309-07701-X 1. Trucks—Sizes—Safety regulations—United States. 2. Trucks—Weight—Safety regulations—United States. 3. Trucks—Law and legislation—United States. 4. Trucking—Law and legislation—United States. I. Title II. Special report (National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board); 267. KF2220.T7 N38 2002 373.7309'483—dc21 2002075409

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is a division of the National Research Council, which serves the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The Board’s mission is to promote innovation and progress in transportation by stimulating and conducting research, facilitating the dissemination of information, and encouraging the implementation of research results. The Board’s varied activities annually engage more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 COMMITTEE FOR THE STUDY OF THE REGULATION OF WEIGHTS, LENGTHS, AND WIDTHS OF COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES James W. Poirot (Chair), Chairman Emeritus, CH2M HILL, Mukilteo, Washington Kenneth D. Boyer, Professor, Department of Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing Robert G. Dulla, Senior Partner, Sierra Research, Inc., Sacramento, California Nicholas J. Garber, Professor and Chairman, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville Thomas D. Gillespie, Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Ezra Hauer, Emeritus Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada James H. Kopf, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Engineer, Mississippi Department of Transportation Sue McNeil, Director, Urban Transportation Center, University of Illinois, Chicago Eugene E. Ofstead, Assistant Commissioner for Transportation Research and Investment Management, Minnesota Department of Transportation (retired) John R. Pearson, Program Director, Council of Deputy Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada F. Gerald Rawling, Director of Operations Analysis, Chicago Area Transportation Study, Illinois James E. Roberts, Chief Deputy Director, California Department of Transportation (retired) John S. Strong, Professor of Finance and Economics, School of Business Administration, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia C. Michael Walton, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Texas at Austin Transportation Research Board Staff Joseph R. Morris, Study Director

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 Preface This reportisthe result ofaprovision inthe1998Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) that instructed the Secretary of Transportation to ask the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to conduct a study of the regulations governing the weights, lengths, and widths of commercial motor vehicles operating on highways subject to federal regulation, and to recommend any revisions to the regulations deemed appropriate. These federal regulations, along with state regulations that also limit truck dimensions, have important effects on the costs of highway transportation of freight and passengers. This study follows a series of investigations of the regulation of commercial motor vehicle size and weight conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and by earlier TRB committees. The study charge in TEA-21 asked TRB to take into account the conclusions of the 1990 report Truck Weight Limits: Issues and Options (TRB Special Report 225), which was also produced by TRB at the request of Congress. In 2000, DOT published the final version of its Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study; the TRB committee that conducted the present study interpreted its task as complementary to the DOT study. The objective of the latter study was to develop an analytical framework that could be applied to assess a range of policy options; the study did not generate policy recommendations. In contrast, the present study provides recommendations, as Congress requested. These recommendations involve organizational arrangements designed to promote reform of the current federal regulations, as well as changes in the regulations to improve the efficiency of truck freight transportation and mitigate the costs of truck traffic to the public. Unlike the previous TRB and DOT analyses, the present study has not produced new quantitative estimates of the impacts of changes in the regulations. The available models were fully exercised in previous studies, and it was not practical for the committee to develop new

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 methods. The committee based its conclusions on the evaluations in past truck size and weight studies and criticism of those studies, on other published information sources, and on the comments of interested parties solicited by the committee in accordance with its charge. The study charge in TEA-21 was broad, encompassing in principle every aspect of a complex body of federal regulations. It was not possible for the committee to review each provision of the regulations individually. Therefore, the absence of a recommendation to change any particular regulatory provision does not represent the committee’s endorsement of the provision. Nor was the objective of the study to identify an optimum set of federal size and weight limits. Rather, the committee’s recommendations relate primarily to the process by which federal regulations are established and the relationship between the federal and state governments in regulating truck size and weight. As one example, the committee did not consider whether federal axle weight limits should be changed. Also, although the committee received comments from members of the motor coach industry that included proposals for regulatory changes, the committee did not evaluate provisions of the federal regulations as they affect passenger coaches in particular. The study was managed by Joseph R. Morris, who drafted this report under the direction of the committee and under the supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of TRB’s Studies and Information Services Division. Thomas J. Hillegas prepared background material for the committee on enforcement of truck regulations and on methods of mitigating the effects of truck traffic. Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. The report was edited and prepared for publication under the supervision of Nancy Ackerman, Director of Reports and Editorial Services. Rona Briere edited the report, and Alisa Decatur prepared the manuscript for publication. Jocelyn Sands directed project support staff. Special thanks go to Frances E. Holland for assistance with meeting arrangements, communications with committee members, and report production. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence,

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. Appreciation is expressed to the following individuals for their review of this report: Kenneth L. Campbell, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Thomas B. Deen, Stevensville, Maryland; Edward Fain, Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Little Rock; Gongkang Fu, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; David A. Galt, Montana Department of Transportation, Helena; Patrick McCarthy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; Fred P. Nix, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada; and Kenneth A. Small, University of California, Irvine. Although the reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the findings and conclusions, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Christopher A. Sims, Princeton University, and Lester A. Hoel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. James W. Poirot Chair, Committee for the Study of the Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267 Contents     Executive Summary   1 1   Introduction   13     Function of Size and Weight Regulation,   14     Driving Forces for Change,   21     Directions for Change,   29     Challenges Confronting Reform,   30     Evaluating the Options,   34     Organization of the Report,   35 2   Past Evaluations of Changes in Truck Size and Weight Regulations   38     Problems in Predicting Impacts of Changes in Regulations,   39     Summary of Evaluations of Past Studies,   47     Estimation Methods and Results,   52 3   Regulatory Options   115     Institutional Arrangements to Allow Fact-Based Regulation,   116     Truck Weight Limits Recommendations,   130     Modified Version of Truck Weight Limits Recommendations,   135     Program for Large Reductions in Shipper Costs,   143     Increasing the Effectiveness of Regulation: Performance Standards and Pricing,   147     Summary,   151 4   Mitigation   154     Vehicle Design,   156     Separation of Car and Truck Traffic,   166     Enforcement,   170     Summary,   182 5   Conclusions and Recommendations   189     Conclusions,   189     Recommendations,   195

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Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vechicles: Special Report 267     Appendixes     A   Study Charge   213 B   Federal Truck Size and Weight Laws   215 C   Comments Received by the Committee   233 D   Recommendations from Truck Weight Limits Study (1990)   256     Study Committee Biographical Information   267