Truckers told to stay off secondary roads

Published 4:16 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2023

By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Kentucky State Police Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) are reminding long-haul truck drivers to stay on routes that have been established as appropriate for the weight and size of their vehicles.

Those two agencies have ramped up efforts to deter semi-tractor trailers from attempting shortcuts on rural secondary roads that were not designed for large cross-country trucks, with KYTC saying it’s a common problem across Kentucky and neighboring states.

“This is a recurring issue as drivers try to save on time and fuel,” said Kyle Poat, Chief District Engineer at the Cabinet’s Paducah office. “But our rural secondary roads were not built for regular through-travel by vehicles of such size and weight.”

He cites Ky-286 as an example of the problem,  a road that crosses southern Ballard County and forms a cut-through between Wickliffe and Paducah. Over the last three years, there have been 119 crashes, 40 injury crashes and 5 fatality crashes along just over 16 miles of KY 286.  About 30 of the crashes involved a SEMI or “STAA truck,” a reference to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. The law established and defined a national truck network of highways and bridges suitable for large trucks.  Of the 24 most recent crashes on KY 286, about half involved commercial trucks.

“NO TRUCK” signs have been installed at each end of KY 286 and at state highway intersections.  CVE officers have also stepped-up patrols and written numerous citations.

“The signs will help with enforcement efforts as additional cases come up in district court,” CVE Officer Mark Townsend stated. “The legal responsibility falls on the CDL-carrying professional driver.  The driver is required to follow a route that keeps the truck on the National Truck Network.”

The widespread use of cell phone GPS mapping apps created for passenger vehicles also contributes to SEMI trucks ending up on inappropriate routes. The phone apps lack features that mark low overpasses, denote narrow roadways and other obstacles trucks should avoid.

To avoid the restricted section of KY 286, cross-country truckers traveling between Wickliffe and Paducah should follow U.S. 60.  The “NO TRUCK” signs and restrictions do not apply to local farmers or trucks making local deliveries along KY 286.