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New trucking weight laws raise concern about roadway safety

This week, Governor Matt Bevin signed into law several bills modifying the size and weight rules for truck drivers. Taken together, the measures are an effort to increase business in the state of Kentucky, though the new measures are likely to come at a cost.

One of the measures increases the weight limit for truck hauling aluminum and other metal commodities by 50 percent, and allows trucks hauling steel products to weigh up to 120,000 for trips up to 150 miles. That measure also sets a 14-foot height limit for vehicle haulers. 

A second measure allows feed haulers to exceed the 80,000 pound weight limit on two-lane and four-lane highways. Current law already allows a 10 percent weight for trucks hauling rock, coal, concrete, solid waste, livestock, fill dirt and farm crops. Now, under the new law, trucks carrying livestock or poultry feed are allowed the 10 percent weight tolerance as well. Livestock and agricultural haulers are allowed, under the measure, to exceed gross weight limits as well.

The third measure eases the requirement on transportation of farm equipment with respect to wheel requirements. Essentially, farmers and equipment implementers will be able to avoid hauling costs and time.

Critics of the measures disagree about whether the increased revenue will outweigh the costs associated with increased roadway and bridge stress, which will lead to swifter deterioration.  In addition, there are also arguably concerns about roadway safety. Whenever weight and height limits are increased or eased, there is an increased risk to other drivers. We’ll say more about this in our next post.