Texas House approves changes to truck weight enforcement, work zones

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/13/2015

A pair of bills halfway through the Texas statehouse cover truck weight enforcement and driver safety through work zones.

The House voted unanimously to advance a bill that would set uniform weighing procedures for truck weight enforcement officers.

Sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, HB1252 would require the Department of Public Safety to establish uniform procedures that all motor vehicle weight enforcement officers must follow.

The agency would also be authorized to revoke or rescind the authority of any weight enforcement officers, including a weight enforcement officer of a municipal police department, sheriff’s department or constable’s office, that fail to comply with the established weighing procedures.

Texas law authorizes penalties for overweight vehicles in excess of several thousand dollars based on the type of offense and whether the violator is a repeat offender.

Supporters say the bill would help ensure that citations for overweight vehicles were issued appropriately and consistently.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also supports the bill. The Association has communicated the support of professional drivers to the bill sponsor.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said that due to the severity of overweight penalties, it is important that those responsible for weighing trucks are doing it correctly using uniform procedures.

Opponents say HB1252 lacks parameters on requirements that DPS could establish and how often the rules could change, which could create uncertainty for weight enforcement officers.

The Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to consider the bill in a public hearing on Wednesday, May 13.

One more House-approved bill would lower the speed limit in highway construction and maintenance work zones. Physical barriers would also be required to separate traffic moving in opposite directions.

Texas law now does not include a requirement to separate directions of travel in work zones.

Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, HB1238 would drop the speed limit in affected areas by 20 mph below the posted limit, or by 30 percent below the posted speed, whichever is less.

State highways or interstates would be exempt.

Violations could result in fine amounts double the usual amount.

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

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