Nevada’s Nirvana

In September 2023, American Connection3 MinutesBy Rod SimmondsOctober 22, 2023

While in Nevada for the Reno Truck Show, Rod Simmonds investigated some of the state’s more progressive combination legislation.

The US Federal vehicle weight limits are 80,000lb gross vehicle weight (36.28 tonne), 20,000lb (9.07 tonne) on a single axle, and 34,000lb (15.4 tonne) on a tandem-axle group. Individual states, however, often have different limits.

Nevada is one, and you will find high-productivity units running within the state on approved runs.

Nevada’s population is just over 3 million people (spread across 285,000m2), but it is a major truck and railroad freight route from California to its west to the states further north and east. The state allows a weight limit of 129,000lb (58.5 tonne), using combinations like triples, Rocky Mountain doubles, turnpike doubles, truck and trailer, or truck and two trailers.

Combinations are limited to set trailer lengths in combinations, with total lengths of 95ft or 98ft (28.9m or 29.8m). They must be permit-approved. Short pintle hook connections are the norm.

And there are no big fluro H stickers to be seen!

Axle spacings are all based on the Federal Bridge Formula, and with set axle loads, operators could face some pretty savage fines for being overweight.

Nevada’s motorway network and major arterial roads are built with the larger combinations in mind (that is, there are very few roundabouts…). The state is home to many of the leading retailer DCs in the United States – and the world. The likes of FedEx, Amazon, Sherwin Paints and UPS all have massive DCs based near the crossroads of Reno, and can take advantage of the state’s more productive and liberal rules compared with nearby California.

Bulk and heavy freight companies also take advantage of the greater payload, including aggregate, hay, timber, fuel and containers.

Unlike California, which is legislating diesel out of the state, Nevada’s proactive search for more productivity shows how it can be done.

Which direction is the industry going?

The United States’ biggest-selling truck, the Freightliner Cascadia, powered by a low-emission diesel powerplant, passes by a new Pepsi/ Frito-Lay Tesla semi heavy-electric truck. No doubt, the industry will be sticking with diesel for a while yet.