Excessive Truck Weight:

An Expensive Burden We Can No Longer Support

CED-79-94: Published: Jul 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 1979.

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The Nation's highways are deteriorating at an accelerated pace and sufficient funds are not available to cope with current needs or meet future requirements. Excess truck weight is one cause that can be controlled. By strictly enforcing their weight laws, states could virtually eliminate the damage being caused by overweight trucks. While controlling truck weights will not eliminate highway deterioration, applying federal weight limits to all trucks on federal-aid highways could substantially reduce this deterioration.

National statistics show that at least 22 percent of all loaded tractor-trailers exceed state weight limits. This percentage is even higher for other types of large trucks. Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) supported the 1975 increased federal weight limits, it has no program sufficient to offset related increased costs to preserve the quality of the highways. While the 1975 weight increases were made to save fuel for heavy trucks, all vehicles use more fuel on deteriorated roads, heavier trucks use more fuel, and additional highway repairs require more fuel. DOT has not determined whether there has been an overall fuel saving since the higher limits were allowed. A good weight enforcement program requires effective enforcement techniques, stringent penalties, and adequate staff and funds. States need standards to evaluate their program to enforce weight limits that will enable them to identify problems and reliable alternative solutions.

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