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Policymakers know better than anyone that wording matters. When it comes to transportation, understanding the difference between “heavier,” “longer” and “bigger” trucks is critical to implementing policy upgrades that make sense. Unfortunately, terminology deployed by critics is clouding discussion of Twin 33s.

For Twin 33s, the facts are simple:

  • Twin 33s Are Shorter Than Three Other Legal Truck Configurations: Each trailer is only five feet longer than Twin 28s, but overall, Twin 33s are shorter than Rocky Mountain Doubles, Triple 28s, and Turnpike Doubles.
  • Twin 33s Will Not Increase Weight Limits: Twin 33s will still abide by the current 80,000lb weight limit. Unlike proposals to make trucks heavier, Twin 33s will not change our weight limits.
  • Twin 33s Already Operate In 20 States: In states like Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and others, Twin 33s have been operating legally. Moreover, the U.S. is behind internationally. Canada and Mexico permit Twin 33s on interstate highways, while Europe has even larger trucks.
  • Twin 33s Do Not And Will Not Operate On City Streets Or Local Roads: Contrary to skeptics’ beliefs, Twin 33s will only operate on the U.S. Highway system.

Updating Trucking Policy

Given the U.S. freight network transports more than 70 percent of our goods, it plays a critical role in our economy. Moreover, demand for shipped goods is expected to grow 27 percent in the next decade, reinforcing the need to update policies to meet the needs of a modern consumer.  However, even with bipartisan agreement on improving infrastructure and transportation policy, Congress is reaching roadblocks when it comes to passing zero-cost legislation that would support the growing demand for shipped goods and simultaneously benefit all Americans.

“Twin 33s”

One policy upgrade being discussed at the federal level is allowing Twin 33 trailers to travel across the U.S. Interstate Highway network. Proposals to permit the widespread adoption of Twin 33s move America towards the international norm without fundamentally altering truck length on the road or adjusting our weight limits.

Shifting from Twin 28s to Twin 33s, while only adding five feet to each trailer, helps meet the growing demand for lightweight goods prompted by the growth in e-commerce would improve efficiency, sustainability, and safety. Outfitted with the modern safety technology, Twin 33s will enable fewer trucks to carry more goods. In 2014, this would have reduced truck miles driven by 3.1 billion, thereby saving 4,500 lives lost to trucking annually.

Additionally, a recent economic analysis found that allowing shippers to use Twin 33s – which would only operate where Twin 28s currently run – would reduce operating costs by 10 percent, resulting in 5 percent savings on delivery service for consumers.

“Heavier Trucks”

Meanwhile, many members of the manufacturing, agriculture, and food and beverage industries are advocating – also at the federal level – for an increase in the federal weight limit for trucks from 80,000lbs to 91,000lbs. By allowing trucks to carry more weight, these groups argue that the policy will reduce congestion and improve efficiency.

In response, Rep. Dave Baker (R-MN) introduced legislation that would allow for a change in weight limits. Since its introduction, the policy proposal has been at the center of a heated debate around how the change would affect the safety of America’s roads and highways. While efficiency may be improved, some policymakers and third party groups claim this policy would be detrimental to drivers’ safety.

“Bigger Trucks”

The third term being used in the transportation policy conversation is the most vague. Many opponents are using the term “bigger trucks” in opposition efforts against changing weight limits, while making no mention of the Twin 33 policy proposal. Understanding the distinction between heavier and longer trucks is critical to ensuring sensible policies are swiftly passed, and that those with less certain outcomes receive proper attention and ongoing discussion.

Moving Forward

Implementing common-sense policy upgrades requires policymakers to get the terminology right. With American consumers and businesses relying on the transportation system to transport goods from manufacturer to their homes, mismatching the terms prevents the passage of a zero-cost solution that will improve safety and efficiency on our roads, while reducing wear and tear and traffic congestion. It’s time we work toward a modern transportation system by supporting longer, not heavier trucks on our interstate highway network.