Arkansas bill would open roads to mini-trucks

| 12/17/2008

With the recent high cost of fuel forcing drivers to find ways to save money, consumers are looking for vehicles that are smaller and smaller. As a result, more truckers soon could be sharing certain roads with the increasingly popular mini-truck.

Sen. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, has offered a bill for consideration during the upcoming session that would open roadways in the state for the vehicles that weigh 3,400 pounds or less.

Long considered off-road vehicles, these trucks go by many names, including Japanese mini-truck, Kei truck, micro-truck and utility transportation vehicle. Mini-trucks have continued to grow in popularity as the safety conditions of the trucks have improved.

Nine states have passed laws allowing restricted use on some roadways.

The mini-trucks can travel at speeds as fast as 60 mph. They typically have a price tag between $3,000 and $13,000, depending on their age and condition.

Many farmers and construction companies already use mini-trucks to save on fuel costs. Most of the vehicles reportedly get at least 30 to 50 miles per gallon.

If signed into law in Arkansas, owners of mini-trucks would need to title and register their rides to be cleared for use on state roads. Federal highways would remain off limits.

The proposed rule would not apply to other smaller transportation devices, such as all-terrain vehicles or four-wheelers.

Altes’ bill – SB20 – can be considered during the regular session that begins Jan. 12.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arkansas, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor