Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles
SPECIAL REPORT 267
Transportation Research Board
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Transportation Research Board
Transportation Research Board Special Report 267
IA planning and administration
IV operations and safety
VIII freight transportation (multimodal)
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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)
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
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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
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
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,
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