Arkansas loose load bill dies; CDL drug check advances

| Thursday, March 29, 2007

A bid to get tough with anyone who fails to cover certain loads of loose material in the back of trucks in Arkansas has died while a separate effort to create a database to track drug test results of perspective truck drivers has moved onto the governor’s desk.

The House Public Transportation Committee rejected a bill – SB8 – to require a motor vehicle or trailer with an open bed and transporting sand, gravel or rock on public streets or highways to secure such loads with a cover to prevent the load from “dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping.” The Senate previously approved it by unanimous consent.

Violators would have faced $500 fines.

State law now requires covers on trucks built after Sept. 30, 2001. Trucks built on or before that date can transport uncovered loads if the top of the trailer bed is at least six inches above the height of the load, measured at the load’s perimeter.

Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, said the expanded rule is needed because it would reduce the number of windshields being cracked by flying debris, the Arkansas News Bureau reported. He also said it isn’t always possible to tell by sight if a truck was built before or after the cutoff date.

Opponents included county judges, who fought against the bill because of the cost related to purchasing tarps for county trucks.

Hendren tried to alleviate that concern by filing legislation that would distribute $10,000 to each of the state’s counties from the state’s revenue surplus, the News Bureau reported.

House and Senate lawmakers approved a bill – HB2391 – that is intended to keep truckers who fail drug tests for one employer from applying for a job elsewhere. It now heads to Gov. Mike Beebe’s desk.

Sponsored by Rep. Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville, the bill would put the person’s drug test in a database. Companies could access the information for $1.

Similar protections already are in place in North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Washington, the News Bureau reported.

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