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Tandem Trailer Deliveries Fact Sheet: Congress Enacts Federal Length Exemption Tracks


Tandem Trailer Deliveries Fact Sheet: Congress Enacts Federal Length Exemption


By Darrell Conner, K&L Gates


The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, approving $305 billion in highway and transit spending and extending federal highway programs through 2020, became law on December 4, 2015 (Pub. L. 114-94). Contained in the new law is a provision that enables light- and medium-duty trailer manufacturers to deliver their products to dealers in combinations of two subject to existing size and weight limits and additional restrictions. This fact sheet provides an overview of the new law and its impact on NATM members.


Authorizing Tandem Trailer Combinations up to 82 Feet in Length


The FAST Act identifies a new category of trailer transporter combination vehicles as “a combination of vehicles consisting of a [powered vehicle not carrying property] and 2 trailers or semitrailers with a total weight that does not exceed 26,000 pounds and in which the trailers or semitrailers carry no property and constitute inventory property of a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer of such trailers or semitrailers.”1


As revised by the


FAST Act, federal law now provides that “a State may not prescribe or enforce a regulation of commerce that … has the effect of imposing an overall length limitation of less than 82 feet”2


towaway trailer transporter combination.


The effect of this provision is to permit tandem trailer deliveries in combinations of up to 82 feet in length, and to supersede the prior state law length limitations for such combinations that date back to the Intermodal Transportation Efficiency Act of 19913


.


Tandem trailer operations must be conducted in compliance


44 March/April 2016 www.NATM.com


with other applicable state and federal commercial motor vehicle regulations, including any commercial drivers license (CDL) requirements.


Providing Access to National Highways


The FAST Act guarantees “reasonable access” to the interstate highway system for towaway trailer transporter combinations. Specifically, it amends existing law to provide that “a State may not enact or enforce a law denying . . . reasonable access between” the interstate highway system and “terminals, facilities for food, fuel, repairs, and rest, and points of loading and unloading for... any towaway trailer transporter combination.”4 As such, towaway trailer transporter combinations are authorized for travel on certain secondary and state-maintained roads that are necessary to access interstate highways.


Existing DOT regulations under 23 C.F.R. Part 658.19 provide further interpretation of the definition of “reasonable access.” In general, states may not impose vehicle dimension limits that are more restrictive than federal requirements, and may not “enact


on any such


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