Comments on S. 1390

B-198044: Published: Mar 19, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1980.

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Senate Bill 1390, presently under consideration, would promote commercial vehicle safety and establish minimum truck weight and length for interstate highways. It also allows new maximum widths under certain conditions. The bill contains two penalties for noncompliance with current maximum Federal weight limits generally allowed on the interstate system. Careful consideration should be given to any increases in gross weights allowed in S. 1390 which would increase weights in a number of States. As drafted, S. 1390 will not establish uniform national weight standards; the bill provides for minimum weight limits and leaves the State free to adopt whatever higher limits would be authorized under present law. Sections of S. 1390 would result in more highway wear. Any increase in truck weight subjects State and local governments to more financial stress. One of the premises in highway finance is that users pay for highway construction and maintenance. Acknowledging that heavier vehicles would not pay their fair share if taxed only on fuel purchases, other taxing mechanism were instituted. These taxes have not been adjusted since 1975 to reflect the additional damage from the 10 percent increase to 80,000 pounds. The bill would cause any State failing to allow 80,000 pounds on its interstate to lose its future interstate apportionments. This does not seem consistent with traditional Federal highway legislation seeking State action. In effect, S. 1390 would require States to pay the price for what is claimed to be greater trucking efficiency. The issue of truck size and weight will affect and is affected by energy conservation, increased deterioration of the Nation's highways, other modes of transportation, national economics, and the financial status ot State governments. Truck size issues must be carefully considered in separate legislation. Such legislation should be postponed until the Secretary of Transportation issues the truck size study findings.

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