Truckers 'beg' for crackdown on overweight trucks

| Friday, July 30, 2004

Overweight trucks were a big problem in Kentucky, especially in the eastern part of the state, so the Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement decided it was time to take action.

“Our goal is to have trucks running legal weight limits, and we plan to continue to enforce the law,” said Chris Gilligan, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet information officer.

Gregg Howard,a commissioner with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said that the main problem was with coal trucks coming out of the mines in eastern Kentucky. Those trucks were so overloaded, that rather than tipping the scales around the 126,000-pound mark (the legal limit for coal-haul routes) many were weighing in around 150,000 to 180,000 pounds.

“We even had one that weighed 229,000 pounds,” Howard said, “and a lot over 200,000 pounds.”

Vehicle Enforcement started the blitz June 28. At that time, it was only intended to last a couple weeks. But it has been so successful and met with such great support – some completely unexpected – that it is continuing.

While the state isn’t planning on backing down, and quite honestly, many officials are a little shocked that truckers aren’t asking them to back off.

In a recent town hall meeting of sorts, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, met with residents of an eastern Kentucky community. In attendance were a number of truck drivers. When the discussion of the overweight enforcement came up, the responses from the truckers somewhat caught them off-guard.

“The truck drivers, in essence, were begging law enforcement officials to enforce the law on them,” Gilligan said. “They don’t want to run the risk of killing someone with overweight trucks.”

When the enforcement blitz started, law enforcement officials wrote hundreds of tickets right off the bat. But, that number has been tapering off.

As the enforcement campaign evolved and built steam, law-enforcement officials who not only saw the problem as a public safety issue, they started ticketing it as one.

“The state is now going after the coal operator who willfully overloads trucks,” Gilligan said. “The owner can be cited with a violation with a maximum fine of  $500. The truck driver isn’t the only one being punished or targeted for this violation.”

Howard added that it appeared that the program has really gotten everyone’s attention.

“We weighed 50 trucks by 10 this morning (less than a month into the campaign) and not a one of them was overweight,” Howard said.

--by Jami Jones, feature editor

Jami Jones may be reached at jami_jones@landlinemag.com

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