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Park Rapids duo proposes bill for fuel-efficient mini truck

Bruce Bolton, left, and Dennis Bolton, right, testify at a state transportation committee hearing with Rep. Brita Sailer March 11. They want a bill to pass that would allow mini trucks to be driven on roads. (Submitted photo)

Park Rapids area citizens want mini trucks to be considered legal to drive on roads.

Bruce and Dennis Bolton testified to the state transportation committee March 11, joined by Dist. 2B Rep. Brita Sailer.

They asked that mini trucks be considered for a regular license and be allowed on roads. Now, mini trucks can't be driven on state roads. They have to be driven on the side of the road.

The main concern is safety.

Sailer, who has been working on the proposed bill, said it is a complicated issue with concerns on different sides.

"The State Patrol has concerns about safety ... they say that they don't meet the federal safety standards," Sailer said.

She added, though, that many people think mini trucks look safer than a motorcycle and are bigger than a Smart car.

Bruce and Dennis say the vehicles are safe and economical.

The few people in the Park Rapids area who own the small trucks use them to run errands back and forth, Bruce Bolton said.

"These things get 40 miles per gallon; they're very economical to drive," he said. "We don't do any joy riding like ATVs. We just use them for errands."

The proposed bill won't include ATVs, Sailer said. It is just a proposal to allow mini trucks to be driven on roads.

The Boltons argue that the vehicles are safer than motorcycles.

"These have seat belts, they have lights, they have everything that is required of them for safety," he said. "I'd rather be on one of these than a motorcycle."

Dennis Bolton agreed.

"It has everything that a regular truck has," Dennis Bolton said. "To me, it's ridiculous on the safety issue because motorcycles can go anywhere and these trucks can't. It just doesn't make any sense at all."

Dennis Bolton is a farmer and being able to use a mini truck on the road would help him substantially, he said.

"We have to irrigate farmland. In the summer, we have to check it three times a day, so the truck is helpful for running around field to field," Dennis Bolton said. The trucks are also four-wheel drive.

He drives to Park Rapids at least once a day for parts or other errands and this would help him save money on fuel.

"The only way they'll license it right now is for a type two ATV," Dennis Bolton said. He has to take back roads in order to get to town now, which isn't efficient.

Many other states allow mini trucks to be driven on roads.

"We're trying to make them legal because we feel, just an hour away in North Dakota, they can drive them all over the place," Bruce Bolton said.

The next step is for Sailer to work on some amendments to the bill and prepare for another hearing. A similar bill is being discussed in the Senate, Sailer said. No dates have been set yet.