By and large, private fleet managers continue to seek higher weight limits for commercial trucks as the best way to address economic productivity, traffic congestion, highway safety, and environmental concerns. What's more, they figure the political winds will blow in their favor for only for a short time.

“With truck traffic growing 11 times faster than road capacity, with overall traffic congestion still expected to double by 2035, this is the time to act to allow for higher gross vehicle weight limits on our highways,” Harry Haney III, associate director-logistics operations for Kraft Foods, said in comments at the National Private Truck Council's annual meeting. “Now is the time to act on this.”

NPTC is one of the many groups backing the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (HR 1799) introduced by Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), which would allow individual states to increase their interstate vehicle weight limits to 97,000 lbs., but only for vehicles equipped with a sixth axle. The bill also imposes a user fee for six-axle units that would help fund bridge repair.

According to the Coalition For Transportation Productivity, without changing the size or length of the truck, the additional axle would maintain braking capacity and distribution of weight per tire while minimizing pavement wear.

“There used to be enormous differences of opinion on this issue among private and for-hire carriers,” said Gary Petty, NPTC president & CEO. “But now there is more consensus as shippers, including manufacturers, distributors, and others, have coalesced around this issue. It's not just truckers anymore.”