Alabama House advances truck weight bill

| Thursday, May 03, 2007

A bill halfway through the Alabama Legislature would loosen weight requirements for certain commercial vehicles in the state.

House lawmakers voted 101-12 to approve a bill that would exempt commercial vehicles up to 13 tons that operate solely intrastate from federal safety regulations. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Sponsored by Rep. Richard Lindsey, D-Centre, the bill would exempt trucks weighing 10,001 pounds to 26,001 pounds from safety regulations, including the number of hours drivers may drive. It also would exempt affected drivers from physical exams.

The state adopted the federal registration of intrastate trucks, weighing more than 10,000 pounds, two decades ago. But the tracking system was never implemented because of budget constraints, The Birmingham News reported.

The bill also would provide that the state’s planting and harvesting season be all year. The designation would allow farm vehicles to be exempted from federal hours-of-service rules.

Supporters say the change would help small farmers who rarely use such vehicles on public roads and highways. They also fall under federal truck rules.

Federal officials say passage of the weight exemption would make the state’s rules incompatible with federal law. The result could be the loss of $4.4 million in federal funding for truck enforcement in the state.

Others say the changes would lead to more roadway deaths. About 13 percent of the state’s fatal truck crashes in 2005 involved vehicles within the range that would be exempted, The News reported.

The bill – HB432 – is awaiting assignment to committee in the Senate.

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