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Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper warns lawmakers against allowing bigger trucks on roads

An Oklahoma trooper says bigger trucks pose more danger to motorists and roads, but trucking group supports proposals for heavier and longer trucks.
by Chris Casteel Modified: April 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm •  Published: April 10, 2014

— An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper joined a coalition of groups here this week to warn lawmakers against allowing bigger and heavier trucks on the nation’s highways.

“Unleashing bigger trucks onto Oklahoma highways is the last thing we need,” said trooper Todd Hatchett. “They’re nothing but bad news.”

Hatchett, secretary of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association, visited the offices of Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville. Both serve on the committees that are crafting legislation to set long-term transportation policy.

The last highway bill mandated a study of how truck weights and sizes affect safety and road conditions. The Federal Highway Administration is required to submit the results of the study to Congress in November.

A House bill would give states the authority to raise the weight limits for single-trailer trucks from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds, provided the truck has six axles.

The American Trucking Associations supports that bill and other efforts to allow bigger trucks, including longer trailers. Oklahoma is currently one of 17 states that allows triple-trailers on limited networks of roads.

Darrin Roth, director of highway operations for the American Trucking Associations, said there are single state studies and federal studies concluding that 97,000-pound trucks are no more dangerous than 80,000-pound ones. Allowing the larger trucks, he said, could actually reduce the number of necessary truck trips and reduce accidents.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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