ARIZONA NEWS

President of the Arizona State Troopers Association lobbies with the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks in Washington, DC

Jun 13, 2024, 4:25 AM

Proposed federal legislation looks to increase the weight of commercial trucks and gives individual...

Proposed federal legislation looks to increase the weight of commercial trucks and gives individual states the authority to set that weight. (Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX – Proposed federal legislation looks to increase the weight of commercial trucks and gives individual states the authority to set that weight. The President of the Arizona State Troopers Association Jeffery Hawkins went to Washington, D.C. this week to lobby with the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks (CABT) to oppose the legislation. He met with members of Arizona’s congressional delegation to voice his concerns.

H.R. 3372 would create a pilot program expanding the operation of commercial semitrucks with gross vehicle weight that is 11,000 pounds heavier. The current weight limit is capped at 80,000 pounds. “The pilot project would allow states to initiate an increase in the maximum GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of a vehicle to 91,000 pounds from its current existing 80,000 pounds,” Hawkins said. Hawkins calls the measure dangerous because of increased brake time, infrastructure issues and a trooper shortage.

Increased Brake Time:

Hawkins says the extra 11,000 pounds will increase the stopping distance by 22 feet. “Like anybody that adds more weight, it adds more wear and tear. More ability for brake failure or just simple brake wear,” Hawkins said. He says you can run 90,000-pound trucks in states with smaller populations like North and South Dakota because there are less vehicles on the road. He says the high population density of the Phoenix Metro area will run into problems with heavier semis on the roads, and likely more accidents.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 50% nationwide from 2021 to 2022. And in Arizona fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 20% during the same period.

Infrastructure:

“Most of the bridges in Arizona can’t withstand 91,000-pound loads,” Hawkins said. He says it would cost $464 million to upgrade nearly 5,200 bridges across the state. Hawkins and the CABT also asked members of Congress not to vote for H.R. 7496, which would give individual states the authority to increase commercial truck weight limits. Right now, only the United States President has that authority during a national emergency like the COVID pandemic. Hawkins says this would cause massive problems within the trucking industry because their semis drive cross country. All of the states need to have the proper infrastructure to hold the heavier trucks, which is hard to do when semi weight caps vary from state to state. “It would create a bit of an issue with enforcement if California decided that they were going to raise it, but Arizona didn’t,” Hawkins said.

Trooper Shortage:

Arizona Department of Public Safety is short about 500 troopers, and they don’t have the workforce to inspect all these semis in the pilot program. “There’s a pretty high fatality weight when it comes to commercial traffic at weights of 80,000 pounds and with very few troopers on the road our thought process is we didn’t want to add more weight to trucks with less folks to inspect those trucks,” Hawkins said. Hawkins adds even in their own commercial motor vehicle bureau they are down several troopers.

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President of the Arizona State Troopers Association lobbies with the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks in Washington, DC