Tractor trailer with rockpile

This fall, Congress will consider modifying 36-year old regulation that would increase the weight limit for trucks on interstate highways by 8.5 tons. According to The Wall Street Journal, the increase from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds is being pushed by a coalition of over 150 companies that move products around the country and across the nation's roads. The official rationale for the change is to cut fuel consumption and emissions, as the current legislation requires trucks carrying heavier, denser products to run only partially full to avoid exceeding the limits. The obvious rationale is with fewer trucks running with heavier loads, overall fuel consumption would be cut.

However, there are a number of downsides to what looks like a "green" change. Heavier trucks do disproportionately more damage to roads and bridges and also pose greater safety risks, including taking longer to stop and being more susceptible to instability.

Given the poor state of many of the bridges in the U.S., is it worthwhile to save some fuel and CO2 at the risk of accidents like the Minneapolis bridge collapse a few years ago? Have your say in 'Comments.'


[Source: The Wall Street Journal via Chicago Breaking Business | Image: Corbis]