An Alabama bill aimed at lessening the supposed truck driver shortage has some industry experts concerned about the effect on road conditions.
The bill, called the Rural Logging Support Act or House Bill 368, would increase logging truck weight limits by 10% – a number that the Alabama forestry Association says could result in up to 185,000 fewer truckloads of timber being transported on Alabama roads.
The bill would increase gross vehicle weight limits for qualified trucks from 80,000 pounds to 84,000 pounds for 5-axle trucks, 84,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds for 6 axle trucks. The bill also includes a single axle weight increase from 20,000 pounds to 23,000 pounds, and a tandem axle weight increase from 36,000 pounds to 46,000 pounds according to News 19.
The same bill will also set up a system of grants for non-profit organizations that would pay for the installation of more scales. This increase in weight restrictions is intended to reduce the strain of the current labor shortage in the trucking industry. However, some representatives in the transportation industry worry these weight increases may negatively affect the conditions of Alabama’s roadways, and even create a larger potential for dangerous wrecks.
“Most of them are very old vehicles that appear to be in very poor condition and are already stretching the limits of safety with these big heavy loads that aren’t covered,” said Clay Ingram, a representative with AAA.
“Usually the trees are much longer than the vehicles themselves. They’re already very dangerous and increasing that weight limit for them to allow these vehicles to be even heavier on the roads is a very dangerous thing.”
There are currently three more weeks left in Alabama’s legislative session.