Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants to Make Mini-Trucks Street-Legal

Article excerpt

Long before gas prices shot up, Edgar Hamm of Hamm's Sportsman Oasis in Frederick saw the benefit in buying a mini-truck. Now that agricultural producers, construction businesses and others are feeling the pinch from increasing costs for raw materials, state Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, expects to see a lot more of the diminutive utility-style vehicles in the future.

Armes, whose House district includes Frederick, presented Senate Bill 1998, authored by state Sen. Mike Schulz, R-Altus, to the House General Government and Transportation on Wednesday. The bill would make mini-trucks street-legal in Oklahoma.

"We need to find a way to do this," said Armes, a farmer and rancher.

The full-size pickup his father uses to feed the cattle takes $80 to fill, and it doesn't take many 10-mile round trips around the property before the gas runs out, said Armes. A mini-truck, which typically gets about 40 miles per gallon, could make a huge financial difference in his and other Oklahomans' businesses, he said.

"If we could just get the little boogers on the road, it sure would be a blessing," said Hamm. "I could take it into town to get parts sometimes."

Mini-trucks typically weigh about 1,500 pounds, and may contain a 550cc or 660cc, have 4-wheel drive, and a 45 horsepower engine. Popular models include the Daihatsu Hijet, Honda Acty, Mazda Scrum, Mitsubishi Minicab and Subaru Sambar.

Other than their size, the vehicles have all the features and amenities of other vehicles, including headlights, blinkers, wipers, seatbelts, heat and air conditioning, mirrors, radio, steel frame construction, etc. The truck flatbed may measure about 6'x4', with the capacity to carry as much as 880 pounds.

"They go pretty much anywhere an ATV can go," said Armes. "They're lightweight, and don't get stuck in the mud like a heavier vehicle does. …