In 1982, the United States Congress established a national fixed standard capacity of 28 feet for twin trailers traveling on highways. Due to the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), trailer size has not been changed in more than 20 years. Some states, like Florida, allow the larger 33-foot trailers. But that doesn’t do much good for OTR carriers who are transporting freight across the country.
That’s why FedEx is taking the issue the Congress. Earlier this year, FedEx Ground CEO Henry Maier testified in front of House subcommittee on Transportation & Infrastructure to increase the length of twin trailers, identifying a list of projected benefits.
“Industry-wide, that equals up to 1.8 billion fewer miles driven, more than 300 million gals. of gasoline saved and $2.6 billion in reduced costs annually. Importantly, a reduction in truck trips would be environmentally friendly, saving fuel and emissions from trucking. This is an excellent example of an innovation that can have tremendous value – including increasing cost efficiencies – but it is one that cannot be implemented without Congress modernizing our transportation policy.” – Henry Maier, CEO FedEx Ground
For dry van shippers like us, this could be a huge boon. Increasing trailers from 28 to 33 feet might not seem like a huge amount. But 15% more room in every shipment can save a lot of trips (and fuel) over time. And according to recent studies, 33-foot trailers are as safe or safer than traditional 28-foot trailers because they create added stability. Lawmakers should also consider the possible reductions in roadway congestion, vehicle emissions and even accident probabilities that would result from fewer trips.
If Congress decides to increase trailer length, the change will not take place until the current highway act expires at the end of September.