The Potential for Performance-Based Standards as the Basis for Truck Size and Weight Regulation in the United States

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Maze, Thomas
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Institute for Transportation
InTrans administers 14 centers and programs, and several other distinct research specialties, and a variety of technology transfer and professional education initiatives. More than 100 Iowa State University faculty and staff work at InTrans, and from 200 to 250 student assistants from several ISU departments conduct research while working closely with university faculty. InTrans began in 1983 as a technical assistance program for Iowa’s rural transportation agencies.
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This research project examines truck size (dimensions) and weight regulation in other countries, worldwide, to identify size and weight regulations that are based on standards of truck performance. Such standards, known as performance-based regulations, are intended to ensure that the allowable size and weight of trucks is governed by safety standards and/or by standards for infrastructure (pavement and bridges) wear. The primary goals of this study were to identify performance-based size and weight regulatory practices from a widely diverse group of 32 jurisdictions worldwide, to determine the applicability of such standards in the United States (U.S.) size and weight regulatory framework, and to identify the barriers to adopting this type of approach to truck size and weight regulation.

Even though adopting some performance-based standards may be difficult, the concepts underlying them offer too many advantages not to move forward and use a performance-based framework as a foundation for future size and weight reform. The experiences in other countries such as New Zealand and the European Union indicate that performance-based size and weight regulations can be successfully developed and enforced. However, due to the size of the U.S. road network and the population of the U.S. heavy vehicle fleet not all standards used in other countries may be successfully implemented in the U.S. size and weight regulatory framework.


For this and other reports, please see the InTrans Project pages at:

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