LTL (Less than Truckload) trailers are limited by regulation to 28′. Historically trailer sizes have increased as technology, demand, and infrastructure allowed. For example, tractor trailers have progressed for 40’ to 45’ then 48’ to the current 53’ trailer. An increase of only 5’ could significantly lower fuel usage, decrease the wear and tear on highways, and improve the efficiency of LTL shipping.

Increasing Trailer Size Makes Sense

“It’s glaring that demand is coming. But at the same time, how do you become more efficient? That’s where our 33 ­foot recommendation comes in,” said William Logue, CEO of the less ­than ­truckload unit of FedEx Corp., citing projections that freight demand will double by 2035 from 2010 levels. The configuration can increase capacity by about 18%, he said. “We have an opportunity to absorb a lot of that [freight] growth with our existing number of units…you’re talking 600 million miles reduced on the highways, with 100 million less gallons of fuel burned.” — Transport Topics

According to an International Transportation Forum Report, “Higher capacity vehicles have potential to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions,” as well as yield fewer miles, require fewer trucks on the road, lower transportation costs and result in higher productivity. This would improve road efficiency and utilization, as well as extend the life of our aging roads and bridge infrastructure.” —The Daily Caller

What’s holding back Legislation?

One of the sticking points to altering regulations to allow 33’ pup trailers was the possibility of increased tonnage and what it might do to the infrastructure—already in need of maintenance. However, industry advocates recommend the tonnage remain at 80,000 pounds. Most LTL shipments would run out of space before reaching weight limits.

Existing 28’ trailers can be “Stretched”

In the past, as trailer size regulations have been increased, it’s been a fairly simple process to “stretch” a  trailer by adding wall, floor, and roof material usually to the rear. “So it would mostly go with a 5-foot stretch needed for a 28-to-33-foot conversion, according to Mark Ehrlich, Wabash Trailer  business development manager. “It would not be difficult. We have a procedure all ready.”  — Trucking

In Conclusion

A mentor once told me common sense isn’t common—it’s genius. Increasing trailer size on LTL trailers from 28’ to 33’ is genius. The increase would save wear and tear on our already overburdened highways and bridges. It would allow for increased load capacity in the face of ever increasing demand, and it would help America be less dependent on foreign fuel. It’s time to pass this legislation. All we need is a little common sense.