The trucking industry is urging Governor Culver to veto a bill that would let heavier trucks drive on county roads in Iowa. Under current rules, trucks driving on a county road may weigh no more than 80,000 pounds. The bill would raise that limit to 96,000 pounds, if the truck is equipped with one or two more axles.
Brenda Neville, president of the Iowa Motor Truck Association says: “This heavier equipment on these non-Interstate roads, which typically are the roads that are in the worst condition — especially after the winter we just had, we do have some concerns about the possibility of the damage these trucks could do to these non-Interstate roads and bridges.”
The trucking association’s biggest complaint, though, is that these heavier trucks may be driven by someone who doesn’t have a commercial driver’s license if the truck is a farm vehicle. Neville says that means someone could drive a huge truck on a gravel road or county blacktop without the proper training in how to handle that truck, the kind of training required for a commercial drivers license.
“Our priority as an industry is always safety and there are some definite concerns,” Neville says. Neville’s group also cites a state rule which allows farmer-operated trucks with “special plates” to exceed weight limits by 25%. That means trucks with those “special plates” could carry up to 120,000 pounds — that’s 40,000 pounds more than the federal weight-limit for trucks that operate on the nation’s Interstate highways.
Neville says this bill passed in the closing hours of the 2010 legislative session and she calls it “ill-conceived.” “Our main concern is the fact that they are not requiring the drivers of this larger equipment to have a C.D.L. — a commercial drivers license,” Neville says. “And that was something that we proposed and really pushed very hard and, in the legislation that was passed, that was not included. It was stripped out of it.”
Farm groups have lobbied for allowing heavier loads on county roads, arguing there’s already an exemption which allows trucks hauling livestock to carry a heavier load. There’s an exemption, too, for trucks hauling construction materials, like asphalt or concrete.