Local Politics

Big-trucks bill clears Senate committee

Posted June 12, 2008 12:38 p.m. EDT

— A proposal that would ease restrictions on where large trucks can travel in North Carolina cleared a state Senate committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 1695 would allow 53-foot semitrailers to operate on North Carolina's primary roads. It would also increase the weight limit of certain farm equipment and allow wider boat trailers.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, says the use of the trucks is necessary because they are the primary way commerce moves across the country and that North Carolina needs to allow them on smaller roads to protect the business.

The state Highway Patrol, however, is worried about easing the restrictions, saying it will result in more wrecks.

"When you allow heavier vehicles to travel on the highway, and when you allow longer vehicles to travel on the highway, you do see an increase in traffic collisions involving those type of vehicles," Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin said. "So, we know there will be an increase in traffic collisions."

Jenkins is offering concessions to keep the bill moving.

"I acknowledge that there are certain routes, particularly in the western part of the state, that (big trucks) don't belong on, and I would be glad if the DOT or the Highway Patrol wants to give me a list, if we exempt them," he said."