Time for twin 33s?

It seems Congress is always considering truck size and weight proposals.

At present, the Federal Highway Administration is studying several vehicle configurations. These include:

  • The current 5-axle, 80,000 lb standard.
  • A 5-axle, 88,000 lb combination.
  • A 6-axle, 97,000 lb combination.
  • Rocky Mountain Doubles - a truck tractor pulling a 45' to 48' semitrailer and second shorter semitrailer, usually 28' (pup trailer) in length.
  • Turnpike Doubles - a truck tractor pulling two 48' trailers.
  • Triples - a truck tractor pulling and three 28' trailers.

Longer twins

There is also consideration of increasing the national standard for twin trailers from the existing 28' to 33'. This is an interesting concept.

Among the stakeholders to testify before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on this proposal were Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx Corporation, and David Abney, CEO of UPS.

Smith said, "the use of 33' twin trailers as compared to 28' twin trailers would allow a carrier, on any given lane, to grow the volume of shipments carried up to 18 percent before adding incremental miles."

This would reduce truck miles and truck trips, Abney noted. Fewer truck trips to move the same volume can result in a reduction in congestion.

That would be environmentally friendly and reduce fuel consumption and emissions from trucking.

The two also agreed that allowing twin 33' trailers would not cause an increase in gross vehicle weight, so there would be no increase in the wear-and-tear on the nation's highways.

I was surprised to learn that studies have shown that an increased trailer length to 33' will be as safe as or even safer than the existing 28' length in terms of handling on the road.

It will be interesting to see what Congress comes up with regard to changing truck sizes and weights. As comedian Milton Berle said: "You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think."