Friday, August 28, 2015

The following is a letter sent to the Lafayette Journal & Courier from the President of our company.  It was published in the paper on August 27th.  Click here for the link to the paper's website:


This year, nearly all of us have seen the problems created when highways and bridges are not maintained properly.  Traveling from Indianapolis north has been especially difficult with portions of I-65, US 52, and US 421 being under construction.  Among the many affected by the current I-65 road closure are truckers across Indiana, including those operated by my company, who have lost thousands of hours of productivity waiting in long traffic lines and detours.

So, I take this opportunity to share 2 inequities regarding wear-and-tear on our highways and the payment of fuel taxes.

The first is permit fees for overweight loads.  Trucks hauling loads in sealed ocean-going containers are allowed, with special permits, to haul 95,000 pounds gross weight (The weight limit for other trucks 80,000 pounds).  The permit fee for this privilege is $850 per year, or less than $3 per day.

I believe Purdue’s highway engineers would agree this weight limit increases wear-and-tear on our bridges and highways, and that this permit fee is very small in comparison to the cost of highways.  The trucking industry is vital to our nation’s economy, but such favoritism for certain segments of our industry is inequitable. 


The solution?  Repeal this little-known law which favors the container haulers, a small segment of the industry.  If higher weights are required, then allow higher weight for all by increasing the number of axles on the trailers to evenly distribute the weight and reduce bridge and road damage.    

The second is the method of collecting fuel taxes from the transportation industry.  Our industry favors equitable treatment of all modes of transportation, and I believe a majority in the transportation industry support an increase in fuel taxes --- if equitable collection procedures are in place.  Currently, an 11 cents per gallon tax is collected via quarterly fuel tax reports filed by Motor Carriers. The fallacy of this process is that many companies either fail to file or falsify the quarterly fuel tax reports to avoid the tax.  Indiana is one of only two states which use the dual method to collect; that is, partial collection at the pump and partial collection by tax fillings.

The solution?  Collect the 11 cent tax at the pump. This would assure compliance with collection. The 11 cent add-on would then fairly represent the tax paid by the trucking industry, and the Indiana motoring public would be aware of the full amount of tax paid by the trucking industry.  It has been estimated this action would collect an additional $15 million per year from the non-payors as well as reduce enforcement costs.

If you agree with my thoughts, send this note to your State Representative and Senator and urge them to make these changes. Fair funding for roads is in everyone’s best interest, and is supported by the trucking industry.  Although these suggestions increase cost to the trucking industry, they are less expensive than the future costs to replace bridges and highways that are now maintained with inadequate care and insufficient funding.  

It is time to improve our Indiana highway system.

Thomas R. Schilli
Schilli Transportation Services
trschilli@schilli.com