Could bigger trucks mean bigger help or bigger pain?

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - House Resolution 801 will allow states to raise the weight limit of trucks that run their highways. If this becomes law, you could encounter  the use of "Triples" or LCV's (Longer Combination Vehicles) on Arkansas roads.

These semis can be up to nearly 120 feet long and weigh up to 97,000 pounds, and trucking companies say they can cut back on drivers and save fuel by hauling these larger loads.

According to the organization "Cleaner Safer Trucking" the federal government froze the use of "longer combination vehicles" in the 17 states they were already allowed in. That action took place in 1991, taking the choice out of the states hands.

House Resolution 801 introduced by Minnesota Chip Cravaack would allow states to make the choice whether to allow the large trucks or not. Minnesota and Arkansas do not currently allow them.

Craighead county Sheriff Jack McCann says he, along with other members of the National Sheriffs Association are against the big trucks. "I don't see anything good about this proposal at all." McCann said.

Increased truck weights are a big concern. Many bridges in America have structure issues and can't handle constant excessive weight.

McCann, "They are talking about raising the weight limit from 80 Thousand pounds to 97 Thousand pounds."

It's not so much they have so much more weight on the road tearing up the road. It's just that inertia still applies. 3 of these short trailers weigh an awful lot when a truck is trying to make a quick stop.

"Cleaner Safer Trucking" says there are advantages to the LCV 's.Primarily more cargo gets moved using fewer trucks on the road, and fuel is saved because of increased efficiency in operations.

McCann doesn't agree. "If they are going to come to the Wal-Mart in Jonesboro they are going to have to come in on some of the highways and city streets and they are going to do damage wherever they go."

Right now triples generally run on turnpikes and interstates under controlled conditions. Drivers have to be specially qualified and obviously you couldn't really drive them in a city.

McCann agrees that there are lots of good truck drivers out there but even the best can get into trouble especially on a triple.

Waving his hands back and forth like a fish tail McCann said, "If he gets into a situation, the end could swing three feet. And that could mean a head-on coming from the opposite lane."

McCann recently went to  Washington D.C.  where he and the President of the Sheriffs' Association and a member of the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks met with Congressman Rick Crawford.

"We had a nice discussion with him about our opposition to it and he tentatively agreed that we didn't need this legislation." McCann said.

For now companies that travel through  Arkansas will just have to use semis at their present length.

No word on when this resolution will have action taken on it.

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