RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would lift restrictions on where large trucks and vehicles can travel in the state.
Senate Bill 1695
would increase the width of trucks allowed on North Carolina's primary roads. It would also increase the weight limit of certain farm equipment and allow wider boat trailers.
But the North Carolina Highway Patrol is concerned that lifting restrictions on trucks and trailers will result in more accidents.
National highway data shows that although large trucks make up less than 5 percent of vehicles on the road they are involved in more than 10 percent of fatal crashes.
"What the patrol is concerned about is those two-lane highways, those narrow stretches of roadway that have lane widths of 8 to 8 1/2 feet where you're going to now be meeting traffic," Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said.
"If this law is enacted of trailers up to 10 feet wide or wider, there's going to have to be negotiating when these vehicles meet on the roadways."
But bill co-sponsor Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, says under the current size restrictions, businesses can't get trucks on routes to and from their facilities. If they violate the rules, they risk getting expensive tickets.
"I had business people to call me and say, 'Hey we've made a $50 million investment in this state, and I can't get my good in and my goods out," Hoyle said.
He says he does not think lifting the restrictions will be a safety issue and that the law will bring North Carolina in line with other states that have lifted similar restrictions.
"It's all about jobs," Hoyle said. "It's all about economic development. It's all about making North Carolina better."
Commerce aside, the Highway Patrol says safety must come first.
"We just want to make sure that the citizens, as they are traveling on the highways, are as safe as possible," Clendenin said.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation also has safety concerns about the bill. If the bill passes, the DOT will still have the authority to restrict large trucks on roads when they decide it is a safety hazard.