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Victim's daughter wants brakes put on truck bill

Opposition grows to a bill that would lift length restrictions on the size of trailers allowed on state highways.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Jennifer Tierney knows the damage large trucks can inflict, so she is trying to rally opposition to pending legislation that would allow larger trucks on North Carolina highways.
Senate Bill 1695 would allow 53-foot trailers on the state's primary roads, up from the 48-foot limit. It would also increase the weight limit of certain farm equipment and allow wider boat trailers.

"This is not rocket science. This is common sense, and this bill defies all logic," said Tierney, whose father was killed in a wreck involving a big rig 25 years ago. "The economic gain for the traffic industry is not worth the lives of our citizens."

A survey of 507 people statewide last week by Public Policy Polling found 58 percent opposed to the bill and 15 percent in favor of it. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Lake Lure Police Chief Eric Hester shares her concerns, saying large trucks on narrow mountain roads often result in his officers providing emergency escorts to nearby hospitals for people injured in wrecks.

The state Department of Transportation and the state Highway Patrol have previously expressed concerns about the bill, which has passed the Senate and will be discussed Wednesday by House members.

Charlie Diehl, president of the North Carolina Trucking Association, said in a statement that 53-foot trailers are the standard in the industry. Outlawing their use will harm the economy of smaller communities, he said.

"This is not about undermining public safety," said Sherry Melton, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Chamber.

Other states have already lifted similar restrictions on truck sizes, Melton said.

"The size (of) trucks being proposed in the legislation really has been the industry standard for a decade now," she said. "(There is a) lack of understanding what legislation really does."