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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Carriers, Shippers Pushing For Increasing Twin Trailer Standard; Truckload Group Opposed


A group of carriers and shippers calling themselves Americans For Modern Transportation is asking for provisions that would increase the national twin trailer standard from 28 feet to 33 feet to be included in the FY 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.

The organization’s mission statement states, “Improving both the safety and efficiency of our transportation system is essential to meeting the on-demand needs of the modern business and consumer. We will advocate for policies that modernize the delivery of products and consumer goods to businesses and consumers across the country.” Members include Fedex, UPS, XPO Logistics, and many others.

In line with that, the group sent a letter addressed to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, asking for his support.

The current national twin trailer standard has been in place since 1982. AMT stresses the need is urgent. Their letter lays out their position, saying ‘The benefits of this policy change would immediately improve operations across the nation’s freight network. First, the safety of twin 33-foot trailers is proven, and research has shown that twin 33-foot trailers are more stable and less likely to rollover than twin 28-foot trailers. Second, twin 33-foot trailers will reduce congestion. Without any changes to federal weight restrictions, authorizing twin 33-foot trailers to operate on the national highway network – only where twin 28-foot trailers currently operate – would result in 3.1 billion fewer vehicle miles traveled, 4,500 fewer annual truck crashes, and 53.2 million hours saved due to less congestion. Third, this creative capacity solution would also reduce wear and tear on existing infrastructure.”

In opposition to AMT’s position, Truckload Carriers Association has been a strong opponent of increasing the national twin trailer standard, saying that doing so would cause a significant financial hardship to carriers. Examples they give include artificially depressing the value of single trailers, increasing operating costs, and worsening the truck parking problem.

TCA is a national trade association whose collective sole focus is the truckload segment of the motor carrier industry. “When our industry experienced the previous conversion from 48-foot to 53-foot trailers, the financial burden was dramatic,” TCA said. “Although the change from 48-foot to 53-foot trailers was originally lauded as voluntary, it rapidly evolved into a de facto mandatory change that fleets were expected to make, with none of the financial burden shared by the shipping community. TCA contends that a regulatory change allowing twin 33-foot trailers would not go into practice any differently.”