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For Immediate Release
May 13, 2009

For Information Contact:
Gary Petty, NPTC

NPTC, UMTRI Release Truck Size and Weight Study

Arlington, VA – Increases in truck weight and length would have a direct beneficial effect on the challenges facing American businesses, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that was commissioned by the National Private Truck Council.

Specifically, the study’s findings implied that significant improvements could be achieved in fuel consumption, cost, congestion, improved distribution efficiency, and driver availability by increasing the gross vehicle weight (GVW) up to 97,000 pounds on a six-axle tractor-semitrailer from its current 80,000-pound maximum while at the same time boosting cubic capacity through the use of LCVs (specifically, two 53-ft. trailers—“turnpike doubles”).

“For more than a decade, NPTC has supported modification of federal truck size and weight restrictions in a manner that will improve shipper and carrier productivity,” said Gary F. Petty, NPTC President and CEO. “While there has been ample anecdotal evidence in the private fleet community that larger trucks would mean greater productivity for the businesses operating them, there has not been, until now, a study that helps support the case for changes in the law based on an independent research analysis of a sample group of companies.”

The final report, “Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Larger Trucks for U.S. Businesses Operating Private Fleets ,” estimates a reduction in truck loads of 10% if the allowable weight was increased and 6% if LCV’s were permitted. If both strategies were implemented, then the estimated reduction in truck loads from the members surveyed would be 16%.

The anticipated gains from increases in weight and length would be primarily from the cost of operations and vehicle miles traveled, though some companies will also gain from improved customer service, product mix, and reduced time to market.

“The major potential operating cost benefit of increased tractor-trailer weight or length would be reduced diesel fuel consumption from needing fewer shipments, either because a trailer that now weighs out could carry more cargo, or a company whose trailers frequently cube out could add a second trailer,” according to the UMTRI report. “The reduction in miles per gallon due to heavier or longer trucks would be greatly offset by the significant improvement in transport efficiency (amount of fuel used per cargo unit transported) and the reduction in total miles driven from making fewer shipments.”

Finally, the study concluded that fewer shipments would result in less traffic congestion, less fuel consumption and fewer emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2 ), resulting from fewer truck trips, less congestion and fewer hours of idling. For the five companies in the study that could benefit from additional cargo weight of 14,000 pounds (97,000 GVW), their total annual fuel reduction is estimated at 10.8 million gallons, which would result in a reduction of 240 million pounds (120,000 tons) of CO2. For the three companies that would benefit from LCVs and would consume 23.8 million fewer gallons, it would be 528 million pounds (264,000 tons).

If the fuel consumption and emissions reduction benefits estimated for this study’s subset of vehicle fleets were representative of the national class 8 truck fleet, then the national annual diesel fuel reduction would be nearly three billion gallons and the amount of CO2 produced would be reduced by over 65.3 billion pounds (32.6 million tons).

About NPTC
Founded in 1939, the National Private Truck Council is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of the private truck industry and corporate/business private truck fleet management.  NPTC is the premier marketplace of information, networking and skill building for private fleet professionals as it leads in shaping the future of corporate transportation.

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