US debating pup trailer extension

The US trucking community is currently debating an extension of the standard length for a dog trailer – also referred to as a ‘pup’ in North America – from 28 to 33 feet (8.5 to 10 m).

The extension is part of a recent $55 billion transportation and housing spending bill and will affect so-called double trailers on Interstate and other highways, regardless of the respective state law.

According to US media, the less-than-truckload segment of the industry is especially supportive of changing the length limit at a federal level, arguing it will help improve productivity and cut traffic congestion.

In February, Henry Maier, CEO of FedEx Ground, testified before a hearing on the nation’s freight network, telling the subcommittee that projected benefits of the extension were based on data supplied not only by FedEx, but a whole range of major freight forwarding companies in the US.

“Industry-wide, that equals up to 1.8 billion fewer miles driven, more than 300 million gals. of gasoline saved and $2.6 billion (€2.37 billion, ed.) in reduced costs annually,” Maier argued at the hearing.

Agreed local US journalist Tom Berg of Heavy Duty Trucking, “A pair of 33-foot pups would offer 18 per cent more volume than the current federally approved double-trailer combination, and would require fewer trucks to move the same amount of freight over the highways.

“Significantly, the proposal does not ask for an increase to the federally imposed weight limit of 80,000 pounds for a set of doubles (or any other five-axle rig) – a sticking point for previous ideas because more weight per axle will put more wear and tear on pavement and bridges. And it has nothing to do with long combination vehicles operating in certain states and on some toll roads.”

Before it can be sent to the US President to be signed into law, the House and Senate must reconcile any differences in language about the bill, yet passage has a good chance, observers said.

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