Kentucky bill lets more trucks exceed weight limit

| Monday, February 28, 2005

The Kentucky House approved a bill Feb. 22 that would allow more trucks to exceed the 40-ton weight limit on roads in the state.

Only coal trucks with permits now are allowed to exceed the 40-ton weight limit. Under the proposal, trucks hauling various natural resources, including sand, oil and gravel would be allowed to carry loads that weight up to 60 tons.

Forest products are not included in the bill sponsored by Rep. Howard Cornett, R-Whitesburg.

The current law governing truck weight limits has been on Kentucky’s books since 1986 when the General Assembly granted a special privilege to coal trucks to surpass the 40-ton limit.

A pending case in Pike County, KY, by a gravel trucking firm has challenged the fairness of one industry holding such an advantage, The Associated Press reported. That lawsuit is on hold pending the fate of Cornett’s bill.

Opponents, however, questioned whether heavier trucks would pose a safety hazard to other motorists. Heavier trucks would jeopardize public safety for different reasons, including requiring longer braking distances, opponents said.

Those lawmakers also questioned how much the measure would ultimately cost the state. Heavier trucks would likely cause roads to dilapidate more quickly, some said.

Cornett said the measure was needed to preserve the coal industry and the livelihoods of small, independent truck drivers.

It’s not fair for trucking companies that carry heavy freight other than coal to have different weight restrictions, Cornett argued. And the pending court case could hurt Kentucky’s trucking industry if the judge strikes down the weight exemption for coal haulers, he said.

“Do we want twice as many trucks, or do we want trucks that are hauling the legal weight?” Cornett said before the vote.

HB8 passed 55-32 and has been forwarded to the Senate for further consideration.

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