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GTS Blog

Tractor Trailers – Is Bigger Better?

Posted by Ascent Global Logistics on Mar 28, 2017 5:40:49 PM

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The debate is heating up and both sides have serious points to consider. The hot topic of conversation - longer double tractor-trailer.  A proposal in congress to increase trailer length from 28 feet to 33 feet has passed the House and will move on to the Senate. It basically comes down to two main issues, safety versus efficiency.

Those opposing the bill state that the longer trailers will create additional public safety hazards on the roads.  At 88’ in total, the tandem trailers will be equivalent to an 8-story building. Information indicates that it will take an additional 22 feet to stop, as well as creating more blind spots for smaller vehicles.

The proponent say that it will make the highway safer by decreasing the number of trucks on the road due to the additional freight the longer trailer would be able to haul. Estimates are that 6.6 million trips and 1.3 billion miles would be eliminated by using longer trailers.

It is no surprise that many of the leading U.S. trucking companies support the bill. Their argument is that trailers run out of space long before they are close to the weight limit. Since the weight limit is not being increased for the longer trailers, carriers will be able to move more freight per haul. This will result in increased operating efficiencies and a decrease in the number of trucks. As a side benefit, this may also have an impact on the driver shortage – fewer trucks require fewer drivers.

However, smaller players in the industry are not so supportive. The purchase of larger trailers would be a huge expense, but without them they may not be able to remain competitive with the big guys. Would less competition lead to higher shipping rates?

Another point to consider is the deterioration of the U.S. roads and bridges. The opponents say the larger trucks will be harder on the highways and cause more damage to them. The proponents respond that the weight will be distributed over more area in the longer trailer, which will lessen the impact on the roads.

The debate continues. Will the larger trailers result in fewer trucks on the road, reducing fuel consumption, environmental impact, traffic congestion and vehicle accidents? Or are the longer trailers harder to control and stop, damaging to roads and an overall safety hazard?

What is your opinion?

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Topics: Trucking, Industry News, Domestic Freight Management