Iowa officials unhappy with engine brake bans

| 8/31/2001

The Iowa Department of Transportation is concerned about the growing number of towns that have or are considering banning truck engine brakes. Officials believe that ordinances banning the brakes create roadway hazards.

Michael Winfrey, director of IDOT's Motor Vehicle Enforcement Unit, says that the brakes are safety devices, and banning them creates potential hazards and forces truckers to use other brake systems that don't work as quickly as compression brakes.

City leaders in communities like Clinton and Oskaloosa complain that engine brakes, such as Jake Brakes, are too noisy and have outlawed their use. Other towns like Pleasant Hill are considering a ban.

The ordinance being considered in Pleasant Hill could fine truckers $100 for using the brakes within city limits, according to the Des Moines Register. Emergency vehicles would be allowed to continue using the compression brakes.

"I think if citizens were aware that the city council wants to take safety devices away from truckdrivers, there would be some concern," Scott Weiser, president of the Iowa Motor Carrier Truck Association, told the newspaper. He suggested that city officials enforce noise ordinances instead of banning the brakes. Properly muffled brakes do not make an excessive amount of noise.