The start of the New Year in Texas will coincide with a new law that authorizes an increase in truck weights for tractor-trailers hauling intermodal shipping containers.
Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year, the new law allows seven-axle combinations with a gross vehicle weight of up to 100,000 pounds. Six-axle combinations will be permitted up to 93,000 pounds.
The loads will be subject to various axle configurations.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association communicated to Texas lawmakers while the then-bill made its way through the statehouse that the truckers’ group had concerns about the change.
Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs, noted the increased vehicle weights will be subject to an annual permit fee of $6,000. He added that the loads will be prohibited on interstates, load-restricted roads or bridges, and other routes set by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Permits are valid for travel within 30 miles of select port authorities or ports of entry located in a county bordering the Gulf of Mexico, bay or inlet opening into the Gulf. Affected loads could not exceed a 30-mile radius. In addition, the new law includes load-sealing instruction, a prohibition on transporting hazardous materials, requirements for permit sticker display and recordation, and provisions for compliance enforcement.
Matousek pointed out the changes “unnecessarily jeopardize the safety of the traveling public, provide certain business interests with a significant competitive advantage, and potentially create a number of enforcement challenges.”
The Association adds that trucks with higher gross vehicle weight allowances compromise margins of safety. They are also harder to handle and maneuver, and additional axles or different axle configurations will not entirely mitigate infrastructure damage.
Two more new laws are in effect Jan. 1. The first rule change allows a motor carrier whose registration was revoked to apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for reregistration up to 180 days after the date the registration was revoked. A $10 fee per application is attached.
Knowingly operating, leasing, or assigning a person to drive a large truck with an unsatisfactory rating would be a state felony punishable up to one year behind bars if the vehicle is involved in a wreck that results in injury. Incidents that cause a death could result in a prison term of up to 20 years.
The second new law authorizes the DMV to issue a permit authorizing the movement of fluid milk by trucks up to 90,000 pounds and within specified axle weight limitations.
Annual permit fees are set at $1,200. Applicants for permits will be required to designate the counties in which they intend to operate.
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