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Page 213
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Study Charge." Transportation Research Board. 2002. Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Special Report 267. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10382.
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Appendix A
Study Charge

[Public Law 105-178, 105th Congress, June 9, 1998 (H.R. 2400).]

An Act

To authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes.

… [E]nacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled…

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE …

  1. Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the “Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.”…

Sec. 1213. Studies and Reports ….

  1. Commercial Motor Vehicle Study.

    1. In General.—The Secretary shall request the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study regarding the regulation of weights, lengths, and widths of commercial motor vehicles operating on Federal-aid highways to which Federal regulations apply on the date of enactment of this Act. In conducting the study, the Board shall review law, regulations, studies (including Transportation Research Board Special Report 225: Truck Weight Limits: Issues and Options) and practices and develop recommendations regarding any revisions to law and regulations that the Board determines appropriate.

    2. Factors to Consider and Evaluate.—In developing recommendations under paragraph (1), the Board shall consider and evaluate the impact of the recommendations described in paragraph (1) on the economy, the environment, safety, and service to communities.

    3. Consultation.—In carrying out the study, the Board shall consult with the Department of Transportation, States, the motor carrier industry, freight shippers, highway safety groups, air quality and

Page 214
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Study Charge." Transportation Research Board. 2002. Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Special Report 267. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10382.
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natural resource management groups, commercial motor vehicle driver representatives, and other appropriate entities.

  1. Report.—Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Board shall transmit to Congress and the Secretary a report on the results of the study conducted under this subsection.

  2. Recommendations.—Not later than 180 days after the date of receipt of the report under paragraph (4), the Secretary may transmit to Congress a report containing comments or recommendations of the Secretary regarding the Board’s report.

  3. Funding.—There is authorized to be appropriated out of the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) $250,000 for each of fiscal years 1999 and 2000 to carry out this subsection.

  4. Applicability of Title 23.—Funds made available to carry out this subsection shall be available for obligation in the same manner as if such funds were apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code; except that the Federal share of the cost of the study under this subsection shall be 100 percent and such funds shall remain available until expended.

Page 213
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Study Charge." Transportation Research Board. 2002. Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Special Report 267. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10382.
×
Page 213
Page 214
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Study Charge." Transportation Research Board. 2002. Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Special Report 267. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10382.
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Page 214
Next: Appendix B: Federal Truck Size and Weight Laws »
Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles: Special Report 267 Get This Book
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TRB Special Report 267 - Regulation of Weights, Lengths, and Widths of Commercial Motor Vehicles recommends the creation of an independent public organization to evaluate the effects of truck traffic, pilot studies of new truck designs, and a change in federal law authorizing states to issue permits for operation of larger trucks on the Interstates.

In 1991, Congress placed a freeze on maximum truck weights and dimensions. Some safety groups were protesting against the safety implications of increased truck size and weight, and the railroads were objecting to the introduction of vehicles they deemed to have an unfair advantage. Railroads, unlike trucking firms, must pay for the capital costs of their infrastructure. The railroads contend that large trucks do not pay sufficient taxes to compensate for the highway damage they cause and the environmental costs they generate. Although Congress apparently hoped it had placed a cap on maximum truck dimensions in 1991, such has not proven to be the case.

Carriers operating under specific conditions have been able to seek and obtain special exceptions from the federal freeze by appealing directly to Congress (without any formal review of the possible consequences), thereby encouraging additional firms to seek similar exceptions. In the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, Congress requested a TRB study to review federal policies on commercial vehicle dimensions.

The committee that undertook the study that resulted in Special Report 267 found that regulatory analyses of the benefits and costs of changes in truck dimensions are hampered by a lack of information. Regulatory decisions on such matters will always entail a degree of risk and uncertainty, but the degree of uncertainty surrounding truck issues is uunusually high and unnecessary. The committee concluded that the uncertainty could be alleviated if procedures were established for carrying out a program oof basic and applied research, and if evaluation and monitoring were permanent components of the administration of trucking regulations.

The committee recommended immediate changes in federal regulations that would allow for a federally supervised permit program. The program would permit the operation of vehicles heavier than would normally be allowed, provided that the changes applied only to vehicles with a maximum weight of 90,000 pounds, double trailer configurations with each trailer up to 33 feet, and an overall weight limit governed by the federal bridge formula. Moreover, enforcement of trucks operating under such a program should be strengthened, and the permits should require that users pay the costs they occasion. States should be free to choose whether to participate in the permit program. Those that elected to do so would be required to have in place a program of bridge management, safety monitoring, enforcement, and cost recovery, overseen by the federal government.

The fundamental problem involved in evaluating proposals for changes in truck dimensions is that their effects can often only be estimated or modeled. The data available for estimating safety consequences in particular are inadequate and probably always will be. Thus, the committee that conducted this study concluded that the resulting analyses usually involve a high degree of uncertainty. What is needed is some way to evaluate potential changes through limited and carefully controlled trials, much as proposed new drugs are tested before being allowed in widespread use.

The committee recommended that a new independent entity be created to work with private industry in evaluating new concepts and recommending changes to regulatory agencies. Limited pilot tests would be required, which would need to be carefully designed to avoid undue risks and ensure proper evaluation. Special vehicles could be allowed to operate under carefully controlled circumstances, just as oversize and overweight vehicles are allowed to operate under special permits in many states. Changes in federal laws and regulations would be required to allow states to issue such permits on an expanded network of highways, under the condition that a rigorous program of monitoring and evaluation be instituted.Special Report 269 Summary

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