New federal legislation that would give states the option to raise the Interstate system truck weight limit to 91,000 pounds for vehicles with six axles is supported by the United Fresh Produce Association.
The current limit of 80,000 pounds has been in place for 30 years.
Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, participated in a teleconference with leaders of other trade associations representing food, manufacturing, beverage and forestry industries who support the legislation.
Introduced by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., the Safe Trucking Act is a bill that is consistent with safety concerns and won"t harm the infrastructure, Guenther said.
Ribble, who also spoke at the teleconference, said the legislation would allow fewer trucks to move more product in a safe way, and reduce truck traffic on state and county roads.
With nearly 70% of all U.S. freight moved by trucks and total freight tonnage expected to grow nearly 25% over the next 10 years, Ribble said the legislation will increase truck capacity by 13% without adding more vehicles and ultimately reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Guenther said the higher weight limit would reduce transportation costs for fresh produce.
"With trucking being the overwhelmingly dominant mode of domestic transport for fresh fruits and vegetables, it is imperative that our industry be able to move commodities by promoting efficiency and cost-savings, as well as safety and maintaining infrastructure as much as possible," Guenther said in a statement.
Guenther said that United Fresh and the specialty crop industry wants to make sure the measure is included in the transportation reauthorization package to be considered by the House in coming weeks. He said updating truck weight limits will be a key component of the transportation message that United Fresh will deliver to Congress at the Sept. 28-30 Washington Conference by United Fresh.