Weight Limit for Trucks: Does There Need to be an Increase?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Truck weight limits are set at 80,000 but some in the trucking industry would like to see that limit raised.

"I don't think that it should go anymore than what it is right now," said truck driver Mark Cooper.

"The weight limits do be raised higher," said truck driver Jerry Cater.

Truck drivers coming through Region 8 do have different opinions about the issue of raising weight limits for trucks.

The current limit sits at 80,000 pounds.  Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department Engineer Joe Barnett said this is an issue they're watching.

"There have been some congressional hearings that have considered some information about raising the weight limits on heavy trucks," said Barnett.

The limit some would like to see is 97,000 pounds.  A weight increase that many drivers say they wouldn't support.

"I think it would just be endangering the public because we already have cars and motorcycles that don't know that we don't stop like they do," said Truck Driver Shawn Osborn.

Many states are already struggling to keep roads conditions to a level that is acceptable now and adding about 20,000 more pounds to each truck could make road wear worse.

"There are several roads, most of these are rural roads, that aren't able to carry 80,000 pounds and certainly to go up higher than that would be a concern for us," said Barnett.

"You go down some highways in the hot summer and you can see the ridges in the road where the trucks have gone where the pavement has started to give and the base has started to give under the pavement," said Osborn.

Many drivers said that they're already running their loads as close to 80,000 pounds as possible so the potential of adding more weight wouldn't only be harder on the roads but it would also be harder on their trucks.

"I can't imagine the wear and tear on equipment and tires and the dangerous situation its going to increase if we add 20,000 more to it," said Cooper.

The argument from the trucking industry is that more pounds per trip would allow drivers to make fewer trips and in the long run, possibly save money on fuel and give drivers more time off the road.

"It would be a lot better on the driver with getting rest," said Cater.

Joe Barnett also said that bridges are built to weight limit specifications.  It is unclear if all bridges could handle an extra amount of weight.  The weight limit for trucks has been at 80,000 pounds since 1983.