Studies show regulations increase carrier costs

13 March 2019

Studies from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation have found that states’ practices for interstate movements of overweight vehicles have considerable financial impacts to carriers and customers, increasing costs by up to 82 percent. The findings also point to economic development barriers as a result of circuitous permitted routes.

Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association

The studies were commissioned by the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) and the SC&R Foundation to understand and quantify whether the lack of permit harmonization across the U.S. has resulted in unnecessary financial burdens being placed on carriers and their customers.

“We’ve long suspected that a lack of permit harmonization has had a significant negative economic impact in general and has placed an onerous and problematic financial burden on businesses specifically,” said SC&RA Vice President of Transportation Steven Todd. “Our objective in commissioning the ATRI study was to see if what we suspected was true.”

The final report issued by ATRI, “Assessing the Cost and Operational Impacts of State Practices for Minimum Quad Axle Weights Granted for Routine Over-Weight Permits,” begins by acknowledging that “the maze of rules and regulations that specialized carriers face in making interstate movements is truly overwhelming. As many states will attest, the basis for some of these regulations are extremely dated, not based on any empirical data or evidence.” It also points out that “the analysis of regulations across states conducted in this research demonstrate that the costs… are considerable.” The report underscores this finding by noting “the added costs strictly due to circuitous permitted routes exceeded $1,000 for a haul from Wytheville, VA to Fort Pierce FL, while these same costs amounted to nearly $2,200 for a trip from Shreveport, LA. to Kearney, NE.”

Of note in the SC&R Foundation study is that, in general, average percentage increase to customers ranged from 45 to 82 percent, per move. Additionally, the average financial increase to customers ranged from $4,245 to $5,440 in aggregate dollars.

This first-of-its-kind ATRI study supports SC&RA UPT2021 initiative, which aims to establish permit harmonization between all 50 states. Two of the primary goals for UPT2021 are to encourage all states to allow minimum weight thresholds for the most common industry configurations, and to analyze and issue permits via automated permit systems, 24-7, according to SC&RA. More than 30 states presently use systems that auto-issue permits, in some cases greater than 16 feet wide and high and 250,000 gross pounds. The aim is to gain 100 percent compliance across the country by the year 2021.

“These studies, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration’s study, ‘Best Practices in Permitting in Oversize and Overweight Vehicles,’ continue to support our effort with UPT2021,” said Todd. “There is a consensus regarding the safety and efficiency of automated permitting systems and all of this research backs that conclusion.”

Some of the findings of the FHWA study, described by both government officials and industry leaders included:

  • With automated permitting, the average permit turnaround time decreased from several days and hours to just minutes for most routine and some oversized/overweight permits.
  • Nearly all states (30+) that have implemented automated systems report a moderate increase in total permits applications and issuance.
  • Increased automated permit volume has proportionally increased revenues.
  • Accuracy of permits has dramatically improved.
  • A higher percentage of carriers have ordered, obtained, and traveled on state-issued permits following implementation of automated permit systems.
  • Roadway safety for all motorists has improved.
  • The infrastructure integrity, including the maintaining of bridges and overhead structures, has improved.
  • As a result of moving to automated permitting, states are able to achieve staff efficiencies and reduce costs. Fewer people are required or less time is needed to review and process oversized/overweight permits, freeing up employees to handle customer service inquiries.
  • States have more flexibility with internal headcount issues.

For more information on the ATRI and SC&R Foundation final reports or SC&RA’s UPT2021, contact Steven Todd or visit


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