North Carolina bill would ease length restrictions on certain roads

| 6/11/2008

A bill on the move in the North Carolina Senate would allow longer tractor-trailers on more roads throughout the state.

State law now allows 53-foot trailers on interstates and designated highways. Trucks are limited to 48-foot trailers on all other roadways.

Sponsored by Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, the measure – SB1695 – would increase the length of trucks allowed on the state’s primary roads to 53 feet. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to discuss the bill Wednesday, June 11.

From the main roads, trucks would be allowed to travel up to three miles on their tributaries.

Advocates for the change say it would bring the state’s “antiquated” law up to date with the standard length of trailers in the trucking industry. Others say the current size restrictions make it nearly impossible to make deliveries and pickups at businesses without risking tickets.

Critics say they are concerned about how many wrecks would result from lifting restrictions on tractor-trailers.

To address those concerns, Jenkins is expected to amend his bill to include a list of specific routes and locations where the North Carolina Department of Transportation thinks it would be unsafe for such long trailers to navigate, The News & Observer reported.

Another provision in the bill would allow cotton trucks to weigh up to 64,000 pounds on roads built only for lighter vehicles. The exception would be applied annually from Sept. 1 to March 1.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor