Trucking groups debate Florida transportation bill

Despite the objections of some traffic safety organizations, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) on June 5 signed into law a bill that would allow heavier trucks on the state's non-interstate routes.

A provision of House Bill 1271 authorizes the Florida Department of Transportation to issue special permits allowing commercial motor vehicles weighing up to 88,000 pounds to travel on specific non-interstate routes designated in the permit. The current maximum weight is 80,000 pounds.

Road Safe America and the Florida Coalition for Safe Highways urged Crist to veto the bill, saying it creates safety hazards. Road Safe America said allowing an increase in weight without requiring any additional axles or brakes for increased control or stopping power will cause more crashes, as heavier trucks take longer to stop.

Meanwhile, Bill Graves, president and CEO of the Arlington, VA-based American Trucking Associations, on June 2 sent Crist a letter (.pdf file) on behalf of members and the Florida Trucking Association supporting the bill. Graves said the bill will allow more productive CMVs on Florida highways, reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and alleviate traffic congestion through a reduced number of CMVs.

The law is slated to go into effect July 1.

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