Weighty issue for heavy trucks in Indiana


When laws are inconsistent or unfair, people get upset. When those inconsistent laws affect a business’ ability to compete in the marketplace, we don’t blame them for speaking out and seeking change.

Sullivan County’s Brampton Brick, one of the state’s four brick manufacturers, is joining the effort to convince the state’s legislators to change a law to allow trucks to carry heavier loads of masonry products on Indiana roads.

Current law sets an 80,000-pound weight limit on commercial trucks. The brick manufacturers want that weight limit changed to 120,000 pounds.

The state opened the door to this dispute six years ago when it made an exception and raised the weight-limit law for the hauling of agricultural and steel commodities.

Now brick manufacturers want their own exception.

An interim legislative study committee meets to today to hear testimony on the matter.

Increasing the weight limit, according to brick manufacturers, will reduce transportation costs, which would make brick more affordable in construction projects and increase demand for brick. The end result, they say, would be more production, more jobs and more profits.

Concerns about the higher weight limits center on the impact of the heavier trucks on roads and highways. What’s more, there are concerns that heavier trucks pose greater safety risks to other vehicles on the road.

Brick manufacturers say the higher weight limit won’t inflict more damage on highways or make them more dangerous. In fact, they say heavier trucks have more axles. That means better weight distribution on the trailer and less stress on the roads.

Concerns over safety of the heavier trucks, as voiced by some in law enforcement, grow out of the troubling trend of large commercial trucks with distracted drivers slamming into stopped traffic ahead. That situation played out again just last weekend on I-70 in Illinois near Effingham. The crash resulted in the death of a truck driver who was struck from behind by another truck.

Crash avoidance systems are now available for trucks, but not all have them. Legislators studying the weight-limit issue should use the opportunity to explore the potential for crash avoidance systems in the heavier trucks as well.

Brick manufacturers have a good reason to seek fairness on weight limits. Legislators should hear them out and make recommendations based on the best available information. The issue merits close review, and safety must be part of the discussion.

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