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Action Needed on NC Bills: Truck Safety, Vehicle Size and Weight Increases (2008 NC S-1695 H-2408)

On behalf of Julie Woosley, The The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Bicycle and Pedestrian Stakeholders Group (BPSG) Chair:

I attended the press event held on June 23rd by the Truck Safety Coalition. Speaking were a volunteer member of the Coalition, and Police Chief Hester and Mayor Proctor of Lake Lure. They are particularly concerned that a bill in the state legislature opens all primary roadways to semis up to 53' long and wide trailers up to 10' wide, which in their area includes curvy 2 lane highways that can not accommodate these trucks safely.

They had quite a bit of information, including a recent safety report done by ITRE stating that this would increase truck crash rates, and a State Highway Patrol video showing that even a trucker with 22 years of experience and a perfect safety record can not keep from crossing the center line by several feet on curves on these roads.

Currently, many of these roads have exemptions from current truck allowances to prevent 48' trucks from using them, or prevent heavy trucks on old bridges that cannot support them safely, but this bill would overrule those earlier exemptions.

Also, the NC legislature has increased truck sizes and weights 11 times in the past 13 years. So when is bigger, big enough?

One striking example is that this bill would allow anyone with a standard class C license to drive a vehicle pulling a 10' wide boat trailer on roads that have 8.5' wide lanes. Even more striking was a poll by Public Policy Polling in Raleigh which showed only 15% public support for this bill, consistent across all demographics. The spokesperson from PPP said it would be difficult to get a lower approval rating across the board for any bill unless it supported
something like clubbing puppies.

Senator Clark Jenkins is behind the bill. It was rushed through the Senate and may come before the House on Wednesday [June 26th]. If it is passed, all DOT and municipal ability to limit the use of roads based on safety would stop and restrictions would go through an oversight committee led by Sen. Jenkins.

I have pasted below some basic info about this bill and talking points from the Coalition. If you are opposed to this bill, please contact your local representative and let them know. To find your local rep, please go here:

Your emails do make a difference.

Thanks,
Julie Woosley
CAMPO BPSG Chair

__________

TAKE ACTION NOW TO STOP TRUCK SIZE AND WEIGHT INCREASES ON NORTH CAROLINA ROADS AND HIGHWAYS

North Carolina One of the Leading States in Truck Crash Deaths

Bill Will Lead to More Deaths, Injuries and Roadway Damage and
Destruction

Truck Safety Coalition Action Alert
June 18, 2008

ISSUE: The North Carolina State Senate passed and sent to the House a dangerous and deadly bill (S-1695) to put longer trucks, wider boats and some heavier farm commodity trucks on North Carolina roads. It will increase weight limits for trucks hauling logs and cotton, and allow 53-foot-long tractor-trailers on hundreds of miles of highways where 48 feet is the current limit. Special trucking and boating interests support the bill. If you care about safety, you need to contact your representative in the House and urge them to vote "NO" on H-2408.

H-2408/S-1695 will:
  • Allow any licensed driver, as young as 18, haul a boat and trailer weighing up to 13 tons.
  • Keep the requirement for permits to haul boats wider than 8 1/2 feet but drop the Sunday, holiday and nighttime ban. The nighttime ban would remain only for boats more than 10 feet wide.
  • Allow farmers to drive combines up to 25 feet wide on some roads where the current limit is 18 feet.
  • Increase weight limits for logging trucks. On some roads allow cotton trucks as heavy as 23 tons.
  • Allow 53-foot-long tractor-trailers on all primary highways, with some exceptions, and make it harder for local and state agencies to ban long trucks from some roads. Currently, 53-foot trucks only are allowed on some interstates and major highways.

TAKE ACTION NOW:

Please contact the following Representatives and voice your opposition to H-2408:

House Transportation Committee:
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Committees/Committees.asp?sAction=...

House Appropriations Committee on Transportation:
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Committees/Committees.asp?sAction=...

Your state representative (if you don't know who it is, go to the bottom of the right column for assistance):
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/House/House.html

TALKING POINTS:
  • One thousand five hundred forty-seven (1,547) people died in highway crashes in NC in 2005. Of these deaths, 204, or one of every 7 fatalities, were the result of large truck crashes. (Traffic Safety Facts 2006, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), Special Truck Fatality Data Run 2008)
  • In 2005, North Carolina had the 5th highest number of truck fatalities in the U.S., outstripped only by Texas, California, Florida, and Georgia. (NCSA Special Truck Fatality Data Run 2008)
  • In 2005, North Carolina had nearly twice as many large truck crash deaths than Virginia, its neighboring state, even though both states have almost the same amount of mileage on arterial highways off the Interstate system. (FHWA Highway Statistics 2006)
  • More than 1,000 bridges in NC are being overstressed and left unprotected because they are used by extra-heavy trucks. (Raleigh News-Observer, May 22, 2005, re-published February 21, 2006 (Raleigh News-Observer 2005-2006))
  • According to a NC state highway engineer, about two bridges collapse in NC every year. (Charlotte Observer, December 2, 2004)
  • NC State University researchers concluded that extending the use of 53-foot semi-trailers to what are almost entirely narrow, two-lane, two-way roads on the remainder of what formerly was the U.S. Primary system routes in NC would substantially increase the chances of more large truck crashes on these roads. (NC State University Study)
  • Observations jointly conducted by the NC State Highway Patrol, the NC DOT, and the NC State University Institute for Transportation Research and Education, in cooperation with the NC Trucking Association, found that a combination truck pulling a 53-ft. semi-trailer frequently off-tracked over the double-yellow centerline into the path of opposing traffic and often involved the longer combination truck traveling entirely in the opposing lane. (NC State University Field Study)
  • Thirty-four (34) percent of NC's roads are in poor or mediocre condition. (American Society of Civil Engineers NC Infrastructure Report Card 2005 (ASCE Report Card 2005))
  • According to the NC Department of Transportation in a 2006 study, heavy trucks are costing NC taxpayers at least $130 million each year and probably more in road and bridge destruction. (Raleigh News-Observer 2005-2006)
  • A recent telephone survey of 507 likely voters conducted this week by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling found that 85 percent of North Carolinians oppose allowing 53-foot tractor-trailers travel on most state roads. Every demographic group in the state was opposed to the bill by a wide margin.
For more information, contact the Truck Safety Coalition
(888) 353-4572

Location

NC General Assembly
16 W Jones St
Raleigh, North Carolina
United States
Phone: (919) 733-4111
35° 46' 59.5596" N, 78° 38' 20.2812" W
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