Vermont bills die; would have raised weight limits and loose load fines

| 5/20/2008

Anyone who fails to cover certain loads of loose material in the back of trucks in Vermont won’t have to worry about hefty fines.

A bill has died that sought to require open trucks or trailers transporting dirt, sand, stone, or “similar loose substances” on public highways to secure such loads with a cover or tarpaulin. Violators would have faced $2,500 fines.

Sponsored by Sen. George Coppenrath, R-Caledonia, the measure – S262 – remained in committee when the regular session ended, effectively killing it for the year.

Exceptions would have been made for loads that are at least 6 inches below the top of trucks or trailers. Highway maintenance and construction vehicles also would have been exempted.

Supporters said the rule is needed because it would reduce the number of cracked windshields from flying debris. Others said they are sympathetic to those who might have difficulty affording covers or tarpaulins.

The effort will need to wait until the 2009 regular session for further consideration. Another truck-related issue that must wait until next January for potential passage is a call for the federal government to allow heavier trucks in the state.

Joint House Resolution 12 requested Congress to authorize 90,000-pound weight limits for all commodities transported by five-axle truck-tractors on Vermont interstates.

State law already permits loads of water and milk to be hauled by the heavier vehicles.

Supporters of the resolution pointed out that the 90,000-pound weight limit for transporting all goods in affected vehicles already is in place in New Hampshire.

The proposed resolution in Vermont died in committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest in Vermont for 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor