North Carolina law eases length limits on some roads

| 8/25/2008

A new law in North Carolina soon will allow longer tractor-trailers on more roads throughout the state.

State law already allows 53-foot trailers on 5,600 miles of interstates and designated highways. Trucks are limited to 48-foot trailers on all other roadways.

Gov. Mike Easley signed a bill into law that increases the length of trailers allowed on the state’s primary roads to 53 feet. From the main roads, trucks will be allowed to travel up to three miles on their tributaries.

The new law, previously SB1695, takes effect Sept. 1.

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

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

To address those concerns, a provision added to the bill makes it easier for the North Carolina Department of Transportation to place restrictions on certain sections of roads if it found that they were particularly dangerous. Engineers are allowed to close roads and report the closings later.

Also included in the bill is a provision that allows cotton trucks to weigh up to 50,000 pounds on roads built only for lighter vehicles. Those trucks now are limited to 44,000 pounds.

The exception will 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