In The Media

A Plan for Better Truck Size and Weight Research

Haake Explains Need for Updated Data in TR News

Across the U.S., trucks carry more than 70% of the nation’s freight by weight, moving more than 35 million tons every day and rising. The impact of truck size and weight on pavement, bridges, safety and more can be significant, but good data is lacking. In many cases, the 1962 road test by the then-American Association of State Highway Officials is still cited, saying one fully loaded 18-wheeler causes the same pavement damage as 9,600 passenger cars. But nearly six decades later, roadways, trucks and tires have all changed.

Senior Transportation Planner Daniel Haake explained the need for new research in this area in the latest issue of TR News, from the Transportation Research Board. Haake is the chair of TRB’s Trucking Industry Research Committee and the former chair of the Truck Size and Weight Committee.

Haake explained many of the challenges of this research, including lack of information about truck weight in state crash record systems, no agreed-upon method for evaluating the economic impact of increasing weight limits, modeling challenges in bridge design and varying weight standards that make sweeping policy changes difficult to implement.

Haake also described how the TRB Truck Size and Weight Limits Research Plan Committee is addressing these challenges, with a two-phase research roadmap. The first phase, completed in 2018, identified potential research topics in five overall categories: safety, bridges, pavements, enforcement and mode shift. The second phase involved creation of 27 research problem statements, in an effort to move the conversation forward by translating truck size and weight research challenges into fundable research.

Read the full article, “Truck Size and Weight Research Challenges,” from the January-February 2021 edition of TR News. TR News is copyright National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.

Senior Transportation Planner