Wyoming lightens up on weight enforcement

| 4/25/2007

Truckers hauling overweight loads in Wyoming no longer need to fear that they’ll be told to off-load their dunnage, tarps or chains.

That enforcement policy had been in place for months.

But Wyoming Highway Patrol Capt. Vern Poage, who heads up the enforcement division, told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio that there’s now a new policy.

Poage says truckers with overweight loads will now be allowed an extra 2,000 pounds for things like blocks, tarps and chains.

We asked what prompted the change.

“It’s just a change of direction of what the patrol wanted – we’re not too sure we’re gonna get away with it entirely, but we just could not continue to expect the carriers to come through Wyoming with just the bare necessities,” Poage said.

In saying he’s not sure they’ll “get away with it” Poage is referring to the Wyoming Highway Patrol’s unique interpretation of federal rules on overweight trucks.

But OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig said no other state has interpreted the rules the way Wyoming did.

And Craig says he doesn’t think the Federal Highway Administration will have any problem with Wyoming’s rule change. Craig, who is member of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said the action is overdue and that OOIDA has been working for the change.

“I think it’s about time Wyoming came to their senses,” Craig said Wednesday, April 25. “I’m sure we had a role. We first received a call several months ago from an OOIDA member who was required to leave his dunnage at a scale. We immediately contacted the patrol and (the officer) explained that they were also looking at chains, tarps and other things as being a problem.”

Craig said that the Wyoming officials had said that they were afraid they would loose federal highway funding if they didn’t enforce the more strict weight limits.

“My contact at the Federal Highway Administration said no, they wouldn’t take away (Wyoming’s) money, and they themselves thought it was ridiculous,” Craig said.

Craig said he raised the specific Wyoming weight question at a recent meeting of the CVSA’s Size and Weight Committee.

“All the officers who represented the other states just sat there with their mouths hanging open,” Craig said. “They could not believe that Wyoming was trying to pull this. I’m a little bit surprised to hear Capt. Poage say they were having some reservations that maybe there might be some backlash.

“Certainly from my understanding, the FHWA would not be the ones to impose any backlash. Wyoming is perfectly within the rule to provide the tolerance for those tools of the trade.”

– By Reed Black, staff writer