Trucker dies at backed-up weigh station

| 3/18/2003

A Mississippi trucker died in a three-truck accident March 13 at a backed-up weigh station in Arkansas.

Paul Spight, 43, of Blue Mountain, MS, died when his tractor-trailer hit a truck at the entrance to the I-30 westbound weigh station near mile marker 26 in Hope, AR, at 4:20 p.m. Thursday, according to Trooper Keith Sullivan of Arkansas State Police Troop G.

Witnesses told Sullivan truck traffic was backed up on the weigh station entrance ramp at the time of the accident.

As trucks were exiting I-30 to enter the weigh station, authorities say Spight’s rig rear-ended another semi driven by Albert Kerr of Ontario, Canada. As a result, Kerr’s rig rear-ended another tractor-trailer driven by Merino Verdin of Plainville, IL.

According to the Hope Star, Kerr was taken to Wadley Regional Medical in Texarkana, AR, where he was treated and released.

The newspaper reported westbound traffic on I-30 was blocked for more than two hours, with a detour rerouting traffic through Hope on U.S. 67 to Fulton near mile marker 18.

A weigh scale officer at the westbound scale in Hope said trucks are not waved through because the weigh scale entrance lane only gets backed up when truckers aren’t paying attention or if a truck stalls. He added that when truck traffic does get backed up, the rigs wait in the bypass lane on the side of the interstate.

OOIDA and many truckers have been concerned about scale backups for several years. In 1998, Land Line published a special report titled “Sitting ducks?” about scale backups.

“Stopping in the travel lane poses real danger,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line in 1998. “Common sense tells you, not to mention the law – it’s not safe to park on the highway in the travel lane.”

“When trucks are queued up into moving traffic, it’s dangerous for anyone traveling on the highway,” OOIDA member Robert Johnston of Colorado told Land Line. “It’s dangerous for truckers and dangerous for motorists.”

Land Line’s 1998 research showed all but a handful of states require you to enter the weigh scale even if congestion is heavy. There is no federal law that pre-empts that rule; it is at the discretion of the office on call.

Another trucker told Land Line, “Trucks backed up out on the road is a whole lot more dangerous than not catching a truck that might be a little over on an axle.”

--by Rene Tankersley, feature editor