Connecticut takes aim at truck loophole

| 4/19/2006

State officials in Connecticut want to stop the practice of allowing truck drivers to get temporary plates without having safety inspections.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles are behind the proposed change. It is part of a statewide effort to crackdown on potentially unsafe trucks.

The effort is partly in response to a deadly truck crash in July 2005 that killed four people and injured 19 in the town of Avon. It happened when a dump truck ran into other vehicles that were stopped at the bottom of the mountain’s steep grade at the intersection of state Routes 44 and 10.

Intended to help prevent similar incidents, the DMV recommended to Rell that the state end the prolonged use of temporary plates. Trucks with such plates also would be prohibited from transporting any type of load, the Hartford Courant reported.

If enacted, trucks with temporary plates would only be authorized to be driven from the place of sale or transfer to a plant, construction site or other job location. It could also be moved to a repair or to a safety-inspection site.

The plate would be labeled “Inspection Only.” The safety inspection would be required within 10 days of the plate’s issuance.

Upon passage of the inspection, trucks would either be eligible for a permanent registration or a 60-day temporary registration.

Temporary registrations cost $46 for each 10-day period while annual fees for permanent registrations vary according to weight, the Courant reported. They range from $44 to more than $1,500.

The effort is soon expected to come up for consideration in the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee.

In addition to changing the use of temporary plates on trucks, the DMV has also taken other steps to enforce state and federal laws on large trucks.

The DMV has expanded its teams of truck inspectors for all state roads to seven. The state also received more than $500 million in grants to watch after trucks.

The extra money allows the state to do such things as conduct “educational visits” and inspect all the trucks of poorly rated companies. It also will be used to enforce commercial motor vehicle seat-belt use and allow inspectors and troopers to pay special attention to truck drivers who are following too close and/or committing other serious traffic offenses.