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Truck Size and Weight Limits Research Plan Committee First Report: Candidate Research Topics; Framework for Setting Priorities Contents Summary 1 Introduction 2 Research and Data Recommendations of Past Studies 5 Candidate Research Problem Statement Topics 15 Framework for Setting Research and Data Collection Priorities 25 References 29 Appendix: Review of the Document 31 Study Committee Biographical Information 32 Washington, DC April 16, 2018
SUMMARY The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) asked the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to convene a committee to recommend a research plan to reduce uncertainties in estimates of the impacts of changes in truck size and weight limits. The plan is to specify research projects, estimated costs, and timelines for research in the areas of safety, enforcement, mode shift, bridges, and pavements. This first report of the committee summarizes research recommendations of past truck size and weight limit studies; presents lists of candidate research problem statement topics on each of the five impact categories and on methods to evaluate alternative truck size and weight regulatory structures; and identifies criteria that the committee will take into account when deciding the priority of topics for inclusion in its research plan. The review of research recommendations of past truck size and weight studies shows that similar gaps in data and understanding have been identified in studies by USDOT, TRB, and others over the past 40 years. All past studies have proposed enhancements to the general-purpose information systems (on safety, traffic, and infrastructure condition) that have been the studiesâ primary information resource. Past TRB committees have emphasized the inherent limits on the reliability of forecasts of the consequences of regulatory changes. Other countries have made greater use than the United States of vehicle tests and field trials to guide revisions of truck size and weight limits. The lists of candidate research problem statements were compiled from recommendations of past studies and other sources. All of the topics refer to research to produce results that could be applied to reducing uncertainty in evaluations of changes in truck size and weight limits. The committee will prepare detailed research problem statements for topics selected from the lists as elements of its research plan. The criteria for setting research priorities described in the final section of the report mainly concern the potential value of a research topic for reducing the uncertainties that have proven to be the greatest obstacles to decision making on truck size and weight limits in the past. An important criterion will be the value of research results for general highway management applications beyond the narrow application of evaluating changes in federal size and weight regulations.