Lautenberg Introduces Legislation To Keep Heavier Trucks Off Roads

Sen. Frank Lautenberg

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced legislation on Tuesday that is designed to keep bigger, heavier trucks off the road. The bill would extend the current limit of 80,000 pounds and maximum length of 53 feet for tractor-trailer trucks on interstate highways to the National Highway System, which would improve safety and prevent excessive strain on the nation’s roads, tunnels and bridges.

“Keeping super sized tractor-trailers off our roads will save lives and protect our highways and bridges from heavy damage,” Lautenberg said. “Closing the loophole that allows these long, overweight trucks on our National Highway System will protect our families and our nation’s infrastructure. We know how important trucks are to our economy, but trucks share the roads with our families and we must take every step possible to avoid senseless tragedies. This legislation takes a balanced, common-sense approach to maintaining our highways, keeping our economy moving forward, and making sure our roads are safe for everyone traveling on them.”


The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act (SHIPA) of 2011, would extend the current weight limit and freeze on triple-trailers to the entire 160,000-mile National Highway System (NHS), while still allowing certain exemptions, including for firefighting equipment. The NHS includes both interstate highways and smaller national highways. Most truck size and weight restrictions (53-foot length maximum and 80,000-pound weight maximum) already apply to the 44,000-mile Interstate Highway System. The bill would extend certain restrictions to the much bigger 160,000-mile National Highway System (NHS).

The bill would also close loopholes that allow the operation of overweight trucks and would establish an enforcement program to ensure accountability. Bigger trucks—both those that are heavier and longer than standard trucks—present safety risks, including longer stopping distances, increased risks of rollover and of trailers swaying into adjacent lanes. Research shows that a 100,000-pound truck with unadjusted brakes travels 25 percent further after the driver steps on the brakes than an 80,000-pound truck.

Large trucks account for a disproportionately high share of deaths based on miles traveled compared to standard vehicle traffic. In 2009, 3,380 people died and 74,000 were injured in traffic accidents involving a large truck. In addition, big trucks pose threats to America’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

According to two recent independent polls, more than 72 percent of Americans oppose efforts to allow heavier trucks on our roads. Additionally, 85 percent of Americans do not want to pay for the increased damage done by heavier trucks.

Companion legislation is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-3).

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