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'The heavier a load is, the more dangerous': Georgia lawmakers pass bill allowing some trucks to carry four tons more

HB 189 passed late Wednesday after lawmakers pumped the brakes earlier in the session.

MACON, Ga. — After chaotic final hours of the 2023 legislative session, it's quiet on Thursday under the gold dome in Atlanta.

That means Georgians are sorting out what did and didn't pass on the general assembly's final night. One of the bills that passed is HB189, which allows trucks driving through Georgia to carry heavier loads.

The bill went through several revisions before getting final approval late Wednesday. After lawmakers initially pumped the brakes a few weeks ago, they limited the new standards to trucks hauling timber and other agricultural items.

The hum of the engine keeps Kevin Barritt moving.

"I haul flatbed, construction materials. Drywall, paper, lumber," Barritt said. "I just like the constant being in a different place every day. And getting out, and getting around."

The veteran trucker's been hauling for 25 years. He's got a fair bit of experience.

"Always [a] different load every day. Different responsibilities," he said.

Barritt says HB 189 won't really affect him because he doesn't haul agricultural products, but he has a warning for those who do. 

"Obviously the heavier a load is, the more dangerous it is," he said.

HB 189 allows trucks hauling timber and agricultural items to tow 88,000 pounds of product. That's up from 80,000. 

It's a difference of four tons. 

Lawmakers say it's to help get shipping times back on track.

"Probably just to move more freight. You know, to kind of get the freight moving, because I know the supply chain's been slow," Barritt said.

The 80,000 pound standard will come back in July 2025. That means lawmakers will either need to pass an extension or another bill altogether to keep them in effect.

Trucks hauling the extra 8,000 pounds will have some restrictions. They can only drive 150 miles from the farm or place where they picked up their product.

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