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Ribble Pushes For Heavier Trucks To Be Allowed On Interstates

Supporters Point To Economic Benefits, Critics Raise Safety Concerns

Tony Webster (CC-BY)

A Wisconsin congressman has introduced a bill that seeks to increase truck weight limits on interstate highways.

According to Republican Rep. Reid Ribble, the SAFE Trucking Act would allow trucks with six axles to carry up to 91,000 pounds nationwide. Ribble said trucks are already carrying more than that on Wisconsin highways and roads. The current interstate limit is 80,000 pounds.

“It burdens our county budgets rather than our federal interstate budget and we need to be putting those heavier trucks on the interstate, but they’re not allowed to go on there now,” he said.

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However, Truck Safety Coalition executive director John Lannen disagrees. He said injuries and fatalities related to large trucks have gone up in the last four years.

“This is not the time to be trying to increase truck weights or truck size,” said Lannen.

Ribble said that by requiring large trucks to have six axles, it ensures they can stop safely, even with the heavier loads.

“Not every trucking company is going to opt to do this, but many of them will because of customer demand,” said Ribble.

Some might opt out because the cost to retrofit trucks doesn’t make sense, according to David Heller, with the Truckload Carriers Association.

“Before we go down any road of increasing weight or size or anything like that, I think we need to come up with a highway infrastructure investment plan,” Heller said.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation supports the bill, but said bridge infrastructure improvements are needed to handle the weight.

Ribble said interstate highways and bridges are designed to carry up to 91,000 pounds.

A spokesman for a Wisconsin forest products industry group said they’d like carriers to be able to haul the weight limit that’s legal in their state on national highways.

Despite the rise in the last few years, truck-related injuries and deaths have been at their lowest numbers in four decades, according to most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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