Several bills are up for consideration with the Missouri Legislature. Although all bills seem to be good news for the trucking industry, some lawmakers are concerned about the impact the new weight requirements will have on truck safety in Missouri and the well-being of the roads.
The first bill, HB1402, drops the requirement that contract carriers of HHG movers prove that a service is needed when filing for a permit or certificate of authority. However, they would still will be required to prove that they are “fit, willing and able to perform the proposed service” and that they will also adhere to several other requirements. HHG movers will no longer have to file their rates with the Highways and Transportation Commission. Another provision would keep cities from limiting the ability of these large vehicles to travel through the central area of town.
A second bill, HB 1212, would change restrictions on weight and open roads to vehicles hauling agricultural products or livestock on state highways. Local log trucks would also be able to use any road they choose.
At least one representative is concerned about the impact these bills will have on road safety. He notes that opening the roads represents a win for trucking companies at the cost of the public’s welfare.
Heavier trucks can cause damage to local roads and bridges, which are not designed to handle the increased weight. Damage can include potholes, buckles, or other breaks, which can lead to unsafe driving conditions for all. The trucks themselves can also be a risk to those sharing the roads. Large trucks require greater stopping distances, and the heavier the vehicle, the more likely a trucking accident will result in serious injury or even death. At a minimum, the Missouri State Department of Transportation believes the change would require at least $100,000 in additional expenses each year.
As these bills move through the Senate, observers will likely continue to argue over their fate. For many, concerns over road safety will take center stage in determining whether the new provisions should pass.