The trucking industry has been in the headlines recently, and in high-profile publications. Editorials in major papers have both blasted and endorsed current proposals to change significant aspects of how trucking companies go about their business. Some of the proposed changes include the length of trailers, age of drivers, and re-evaluation of hours requirements for drivers.
It is famously quoted in situations such as these that people react in fear because they fear change. And if some of these proposals are adopted, it would be a big change in the industry. But there are some realities that are driving the change, including shortage in drivers across the country, a need to move more freight with fewer vehicles, environmental regulations changing tractors, and improved technology in trailer construction.
Amidst all of these changes, a congressmen recently introduced legislation that would further change the industry. The Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking Act (known as the Safe Act) was introduced by Rep. Reid Ribble out of Wisconsin earlier this month. The proposed bill is seen as compromise that could pass in the face of the controversy that is surrounding the current proposed changes to the trucking industry.
Details of the Act
The bill would accomplish a number of different changes within the trucking industry. One of the main purposes of the act would be to give the states the ability to regulate the weight of trailers that travel on interstate roads going through their states; states could regulate up to 91,000 pounds of weight. Currently federal regulations limit trailers traveling interstate and on interstate freeways at 80,000. But that number may be outdated. If a state chooses to increase their weight limits, tractors would have to have a sixth axle to haul a trailer of 91,000 pounds.
The proposal is not as revolutionary as it may sound. For example, in Canada and parts of Europe trailers can weigh up to 100,000 pounds. And in Maine the current weight limit of 80,000 does not apply, yet their truck safety numbers are as good as they have been for years. A simple change as proposed by this bill could go a long way to fixing some of the driver shortage problems that the trucking industry is facing.
Support by Industry
As soon as this bill was released, industries across the country endorsed it as a great idea. The American Iron and Steel Institute lauded the bill as a way to introduce flexibility to its industry by increasing the amount of steel and iron that can be transported across the country. And similar releases were sent out by the Dairy Industry and the Coalition for Transportation Productivity. However, the bill is not without its critics. And passing anything in Washington these days can never be guaranteed.
What this story shows is how the trucking industry changes from day to day. Keeping up with those changes in the law, regulations, and economics is essential to the success of any trucking company. At Anderson and Yamada, P.C., we follow and keep up with the changes that the trucking industry faces every day, and we want to use this knowledge to serve your company. Contact us for all of your trucking law needs.