Georgia cities and counties, along with trucking and auto insurance companies, are preparing for the impact of a new law that raises the weight limit of tractor-trailers hauling agricultural and timber products in the state.
House Bill 189 was scaled back slightly during the recently ended legislative session, but will still allow big rigs to deviate by as much as 10% from current weigh limits on most Georgia roads and highways. Georgia law limits most rigs to weigh up to 80,000 pounds, similar to federal regulations, but allows a variance of up to 84,000. The law will now allow variances of up to 88,000 pounds.
The final bill, signed into law in May, notes that trucks must be hauling goods within a 150-mile radius of their point of origin. It also sets penalties for weight violations and allows local law enforcement officers to stop truckers if the officers have reason to believe the rig is too heavy.
The much-debated measure has met with criticism from some local officials, who fear it will mean more wear and tear on roads, and could lead to more-severe accidents. A Tift County commissioner told a local TV news outlet that taxpayers will end up paying more for maintenance.
Some plaintiffs’ law firms also have warned that heavier rigs will mean more devastating accidents if they collide with passenger cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that in 2021, some 4,714 people died in crashes involving large trucks, a 17% increase from 2020.
HB 189 took effect upon the governor’s signature, May 3. It has a sunset date of July 1, 2025.