OOIDA: North Dakota truck size and weight legislation unnecessary

January 6, 2021

Keith Goble

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A pursuit at the North Dakota statehouse to address truck size and weight has the attention of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Measures introduced in both legislative chambers support longer and heavier truck loads on roadways throughout North Dakota.

The first piece of legislation, HCR3001, urges Congress to increase federal truck size and weight standards to benefit a road train pilot program. The nonbinding effort covers state highways and interstates that are part of the National Network in North Dakota and surrounding states.

The House concurrent resolution defines road trains as “a trucking vehicle consisting of two or more connected trailers or semitrailers linked and hauled by a single operating prime mover or tractor which may exceed overall length and total gross vehicle weight limitations, but not exceed current statutory axle load limitations.”

Poking holes in claims

HCR3001 touts the use of road trains to move freight in Australia.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s manager of government affairs, questions the relevance of Australian truck rules to states that include North Dakota.

“I don’t think it’s fair to cite something that Australia does,” Matousek told Land Line Now. “Trucking in Australia is probably quite a bit different than it is here, in a lot of different ways.”

The resolution also claims there is a shortage of 900,000 truck drivers throughout the U.S.

In communication to North Dakota state legislators, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said the claim of a driver shortage could not be further from the truth.

“To the contrary, trucking has always suffered from overcapacity – too many trucks, trailers and drivers,” Pugh wrote. “Wages, working conditions and rampant driver turnover are proof of this.”

Caution urged

The second legislative effort addressing the issue, SB2026, would authorize the governor to increase size and weight limits of commercial vehicles.

Pugh says larger and heavier trucks would “significantly compromise margins of safety” on North Dakota roadways.

“The trucking industry has dozens of real issues that need to be addressed, but we can unequivocally say there is no driver shortage and no need for bigger and/or heavier trucks,” he said.

Pugh cautioned lawmakers about moving forward with increased size and weight rules.

“If you move forward with this, you’re going to unnecessarily impact a tremendous amount of capacity in an industry that simply doesn’t need it, all so a few shippers or private special interests can save money and move cheap freight. In other words, you are going to pick winners and losers.”

“You’re on the wrong side of this issue and highway safety will suffer as a result,” he added.

The measures are scheduled to receive consideration in their respective chamber’s transportation committee on Thursday, Jan. 7. The deadline for bills and resolutions to advance from committee is Feb. 23. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from North Dakota is available.

 

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Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.