Arkansas bill would mandate that loose loads be covered

| 2/11/2009

A bill up for consideration in the Arkansas Legislature would affect how truckers who haul loose materials do business in the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, the bill would require a motor vehicle or trailer with an open bed and transporting sand, gravel or rock on public highways to secure such loads with a cover as to prevent the load from “dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping.”

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.

Arkansas is not alone in its attempt to get loose loads covered. Similar efforts are under way in statehouses that include Mississippi and Washington.

Advocates say the change is needed because it would reduce the number of cracked windshields from flying debris. They also say it isn’t always possible to tell by sight if a truck was built before or after the cutoff date.

Opponents raise concerns about the costs related to purchasing tarps for trucks.

The Senate approved a similar effort during the 2007 session only to see it die in the House. This year’s version – SB124 – is in the Senate Transportation, Technology and Legislative Affairs Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arkansas in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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