What Do Lighter Trucks Mean for the Industry?
Logic dictates that the bigger a truck is, the heavier it will be. Though some models with smaller dimensions tip the scales at higher values than commercial trucks, these vehicles are usually in the spotlight when the subject of vehicle weight is brought up.
The weight of a commercial truck is increased significantly once it is full of freight, and the result presents several benefits and challenges. Higher-capacity trucks can get more out of each trip, saving carriers money in the long-term. However, the subject of reducing commercial vehicle weight limits has been around in the industry for years.
One of the main arguments for lowering the weight limit of commercial vehicles stems from concerns about safety. Many assume that simply reducing the weight of a truck makes it less dangerous. Truckers and managers in the freight industry have argued it isn’t this simple, and that sweeping regulations based on untrue assumptions actually hamper the industry’s productivity without having a noticeable impact on safety.
While safer roads are a goal everyone has, not everyone believes reducing the weight of larger vehicles is the way to go. Even as ELD mandates and new environmental regulations passed under the previous administration, lower speed limits on heavier trucks were not enacted.
Some argue that lighter trucks have economic advantages for the industry, as they make it easier to achieve better fuel efficiency. The design of a truck also influences how efficient it will be with fuel. Various small upgrades are made to trucks to grab a mile here and a mile there. Switching to lighter trucks may help increase fuel economy, but designing trucks with aerodynamic contours can sometimes have a very similar effect. This allows companies to keep the advantages of high capacity and weight limits while still cutting back on resistance to increase fuel economy.
Lighter trucks may not even mean a reduction in accident damage. Certain types of impact from a truck can do catastrophic damage due to the dimensions alone, even if the weight limit is lowered. Lighter trucks can influence safety and savings, but they can also influence the performance of the carrier using them.