JACKSON — Mississippi transportation officials oppose proposals to increase maximum truck weights and also oppose allowing a truck to haul three trailers.
Officials are in opposition to bills pending in the U.S. House and Senate that give states the option to increase weight limits to 97,000 pounds on interstate highways and raise the number of axles allowed from five to six.
The American Trucking Association and other supporters of the changes say trucks can haul more weight safely, lowering shipping costs and cutting the number of trucks on the road. Proponents say there is no evidence that truck weight contributes to fatal accidents. They also say a sixth axle will actually reduce wear-and-tear on roads, especially if it cuts the number of trucks on the road.
Opponents, though, say more weight will make trucks more likely to overturn, increase the number of severe wrecks and damage roads.
“This would do irreparable harm to our roads and bridges,” said Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, a Republican.
The Mississippi Trucking Association also opposes the increased limits. President David Roberts said that the group mainly represents smaller trucking firms, and that his members are worried about the cost of retrofitting trucks haul heavier loads. He also said his members agree with state concerns about road damage and safety.
Officials said increased weight limits on interstates also would mean heavier loads on state and local roads because those vehicles must be able to reach terminals and make deliveries.
Willie Huff, law enforcement director for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said trailers carrying more weight were likely to have goods stacked higher inside, increasing the chance that loads would shift and trucks would tip over. Huff said that the department already issued around 15,000 citations a year because of overweight trucks.
Lt. Donald McCain, director of the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Motor Carrier Safety Division, said heavier loads also would cause stress to trucks.
“The added weight is going to cause more pressure on the brakes when they’re stopping,” McCain said. “Added weight is going to wreak havoc with the suspension and the tires.”