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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 23, 2017 02:02 PM
From: Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Expansion of 102-inch Width Allowance for Truck Trailers
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that will update the Vehicle Code to reflect what has become the standard trailer width across the globe. This legislation will reflect the reality that 96-inch (8 feet) wide trailers are just not available anymore except by special and costly order but they remain the standard in our 1976 codified Vehicle Code.

Currently, the Vehicle Code allows a number of exceptions for 102-inch wide (8 ½ feet) trailers granting them authority to operate statewide. Unfortunately, the industry hasn't used the 96-inch width as a standard for several years, and have moved to the 102-inch width. In fact, a 96-inch trailer is now considered a special order, with an added cost of over $1,000 per trailer and a 6 to 8-month lead time as the assembly lines have to be reconfigured to accommodate such a request.

This bill will make the new standard of 102-inch wide trailers on all Pennsylvania highways, while still allowing both PennDOT and municipalities the ability to restrict these vehicles where necessary on specific roadways, utilizing existing authority granted under 75 PaC.S. §4902(b).

To be fair, current statue does allow for some limited use of 102-inch wide trailers on designated roadways. For example, a 102-inch wide trailer may operate on any highway marked with a traffic route sign (1, 2, and 3-digit routes) provided there is a 10-foot lane width and no signs prohibiting their operation. However, the “general rule” for 10-foot lane width used to be the white “fog line,” but that’s no longer accurate. They are further allowed to travel off of these designated routes for terminals, lodging, etc., but only up to ½ of a mile.

Furthermore, they are not permitted to operate on four-digit or local highways without specific, pre-approval from PennDOT or the local authority. This pre-approval, though, is valid only for the portion or segment specified. Additionally, or somewhat comically, PennDOT has a list of all 102-inch approved roads in the Commonwealth which is not available in print, and would pose a good challenge to anyone trying to find it on their website.

Lastly, here are some examples of the need to expand the 102-inch width allowance:
  • Dollar General has over 400 stores in Pennsylvania with over 400 trailers out of their Bethel, PA hub – all are 102-inches wide.
  • Wegmans has 17 location in Pennsylvania with over 900 trailers – all are 102-inches wide.
  • Giant Food Stores – 120 stores in Pennsylvania with 300 trailers, only 12 of which are 96-inches; and they will be phased by the end of the year.
  • Summit Trailers, located in Schuylkill County has been manufacturing trailers since 1970.They manufacture 102-inch wide trailers, but are located on a road which prohibits the operation of 102-inch wide trailers.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as SB880