The cargo shipping industry is little talked about but has a profound impact on every American’s life. It’s how elderly patients in rural communities receive medication, city-dwellers order groceries, and how small businesses maintained their revenue during the coronavirus pandemic through e-commerce.
It should come as no surprise that cargo delivery carriers saw a dramatic increase in shipped goods, which also included critical medical supplies like the vaccine, over the past 12 months, but outdated federal shipping regulations are hindering capacity limits.
One simple, tax-free policy solution that will increase shipping capacity, reduce shipping costs for consumers while also reducing wait times, is for Congress to allow Twin 33s to operate.
Twin 33s are freight trucks with two thirty-three-foot trailers attached, which is only a modest 5 feet longer than current federal regulations allow to operate. Twenty states, including Florida, already understand the many benefits of Twin 33s and moved to make them legal to operate.
But because Twin 33s are not federally legal, truck drivers in Florida cannot cross state lines, which leads to a negative economic impact for our state’s small businesses.
The economic benefits of Twin 33s are vital as Florida continues to recover from the downturn last year, and they could be a tremendous benefit for the Port of Jacksonville.
According to Americans for Modern Transportation, “studies have shown that twin 33’ trailers can move the same amount of freight with 18% fewer truck trips, reducing congestion and allowing consumers and businesses to realize the $2.8 billion annually in lower shipping costs with quicker delivery times.”
E-commerce is growing exponentially every year, and it’s an important tool for small businesses to grow their customer base, which is why Congress needs to increase cargo shippers’ carrying capacity with Twin 33s.
It’s also important that safety isn’t sacrificed to increase shipping capacity. That’s why twin 33s will still abide by the current 80,000 lbs. weight limit for cargo.
E-commerce packages are lighter and vary in shapes and sizes compared to traditional packages. This means that packages will fill a twin 33 truck before ever reaching the maximum weight limit.
In addition, these trucks are safer for drivers. John Woodrooffe, the director of commercial vehicle research at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, said the current 28’ standard, “are among the most unstable combinations now out there,” and twin 33s are more stable because of their extended wheelbases.
Lastly, due to less required travel to deliver an increased number of goods, Twin 33s are more sustainable. These trucks will reduce fuel consumption by 274 million gallons, which translates to a reduction in 3.2 million tonnes of Co2 emissions.
Twin 33s are a safe, sustainable and tax-free solution that will boost the economy and help small businesses grow. Our lawmakers in Congress, including Sen. Rick Scott, should update decades-old transportation regulations and allow Twin 33s to operate so that Florida truck drivers can cross state lines.
Maurice Langston is chair of the Florida Council for Safe Communities in Tallahassee.