The state of Michigan has been making headlines recently, especially with Detroit filing for bankruptcy and experiencing a major population decline. Budget shortfalls have left little room for improvements and projects, and infrastructure has suffered as a result. But a new report revealed there may be a plan in the works to alleviate the state's roads, many of which are in poor condition.
The Detroit Free Press recently spotlighted the shoddy condition of Michigan roads and how high truck weight limits and low permit fees for overweight vehicles factor into the problem. The report generated a response from Governor Rick Snyder, who encouraged state lawmakers to look into the current system and potentially revise requirements and costs. If the initiative gathers steam and politicians decide to make changes, this move could have a significant impact on the trucking industry.
State boasts higher weight limits, lower fees
Michigan's gross weight limits for trucks is 164,000 pounds - much higher than the federal limit . This high number makes the state the most lenient in the nation when it comes to transporting heavy cargo. According to the Detroit Free Press, some citizens claim the poor condition of many of the state's roads is caused by the high limit and less damage could be incurred if these limits were lowered.
However, some vehicles simply must carry larger loads, and they need a special permit to do so. The source revealed the Michigan Department of Transportation has been very lenient with these permits in the past, awarding 104,000 in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, more than 41,000 of which were for trucks carrying overweight loads. Most surprising to citizens was that the permit fees are only $50, significantly lower than what neighboring states charge carriers who request permission to carry over-the-limit loads. Many nearby governments impose sliding scales that take into account how much excess weight a driver is carrying, rather than charge a flat fee.
As a result of this report, several of Michigan's lawmakers have already deemed it necessary to revamp the system, charging fines for overweight trucks and increasing permit fees. Two state lawmakers have voiced concern that the fees are too low and need to be raised.
Remaining compliant with regulations
If state politicians have their way, permit fees for overweight or oversized loads could increase significantly, leaving transportation companies looking to cut back on expenses in a tight situation. Higher operational costs, combined with continually rising fuel expenses, could hinder operations. As such, utilizing route planning software becomes essential for management teams. This technology can help a fleet optimize all of its vehicles and drivers, ensuring no load is heavier than it needs to be, potentially lowering the cost of overweight permit fees in the long run. By guaranteeing trucks are on the most direct route to their destination, these businesses can also limit their fuel spend and enhance overall productivity.