Maryland overweight load changes take effect Oct. 1

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/28/2012

The rules on certain truck weights in Maryland change next week. The change modifies the circumstances when a police officer is required to allow an overweight vehicle carrying perishable products to continue to its destination, without unloading.

State officials say the rule change is intended to reduce the stress on Maryland roads and bridges that is caused by significantly overweight and illegal trucks.

Existing Maryland law allows drivers of overweight vehicles hauling perishable goods to proceed without being required to unload any product if it is their first weight violation in the calendar year, regardless of excess weight.

Starting Monday, Oct. 1, the new law adopted by lawmakers this spring allows truckers to continue on their way without unloading if the overweight violation is their first weight violation in the past 365 days. The load must also be within 5,000 pounds of the weight limit.

Advocates for the change said it will help address a problem with losing entire loads of perishable products.

They point out that health regulations require that, if any excess load is removed from an overweight vehicle, generally the entire load must be unloaded. As a result, the load is lost.

Also addressed in the new law is the concern that some motor carriers exploit the current exemption. Eligibility for exemption will be limited to one for each motor carrier per year, instead of one for individual operators.

Linda Singer of the Maryland State Highway Administration previously told lawmakers that the change is needed because of the difficulty of catching the same driver multiple times even though the same company is running grossly overweight vehicles. She noted that large companies can simply have overweight vehicles run on different routes.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maryland, click here.

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