Bill Proposal for Heavier Truck Loads Spurs Legislative Fight

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The amount of freight loads that big trucks in Georgia can transport over weight-regulated roads and bridges has turned into a legislative fight between businesses that use trucks to ship their freight and local governments. It is a battle that pits business profits and jobs in a multibillion-dollar industry against state safety regulations.

The basis of the dispute is that Georgia state transportation regulations limit big trucks from carrying freight loads over 80,000 pounds on roads and bridges. That limit was set with both road and bridge quality and safety in mind. Heavier truck loads cause extra wear and tear on roads and bridges. Many of the state's bridges were built in the 1930s — or earlier — and were not designed to accommodate the heavy truck loads of today. Therefore, potential bridge collapses are a concern with heavier truck loads.

But business leaders in timber industries that rely heavily on trucks to move their freight say that in a tough economic climate their trucks need to be able to exceed the current road weight limits set by state law in order for them to stay in business and keep people employed. Rising costs in equipment have played a large part in applying the extra pressure to move heavier loads.

In the past, exceptions to the state's truck load weight limit have been made. For example, industries that include timber, rocks, farm feed and poultry have been granted legislative approval to increase the truck weight limit up to 84,000 pounds.

Timber industries are now seeking another legislative exception to the 80,000 pound road weight limit. With Georgia State Senate Bill 146, lawmakers are considering an increase in the truck weight limit even higher to 88,000 pounds. The bill will amend Code Section 32-6-26 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated that sets the current limit at 80,000 pounds.

Advocates on each side of the bill are seeking support from the Georgia department of transportation. Both board members of the state DOT and members of the legislature have a balancing decision to make about increasing the truck load weight limit allowed on state roads. The entire Georgia forest industry makes an almost $30 billion contribution to the state's economy and employs over 140,000 people. However, many local governments currently cannot afford to fix weakened roads and bridges as a result of heavy truck use.

An Attorney Can Help

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a truck, you may have a right for compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more. For more information, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney today.