If a Texas state representative has his way, truckers in Texas could be fined thousands of dollars and face revocation of their CDL’s after a second overweight violation.
Claiming that Overweight dump trucks, garbage haulers and oilfield trucks (just to name a few) are destroying Texas roads by routinely running as much as 10,000 pounds overweight and if caught by Texas DPS inspectors, paying the $110.00 dollar fine as a cost of doing business, Texas State Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress), who serves as a member of the Texas House Transportation Committee, introduced HB 3094 to increase the penalties and generate some real revenue at the expense of Texas truckers.
HB 3094 will require that the fine for violating the existing transportation code be increased to $1/pound overweight. If a truck is running 10,000 pounds overweight the fine would be $10,000 instead of $110. Fletcher claims this is not an uncommon occurrence however acquaintance within the DPS enforcement community tend to disagree with that assessment as well as Fletcher claims that DPS is not doing their jobs and ignoring the alleged problem.
According to the bill, the increased fines would be charged against the driver in the first violation. A second violation by the same driver within a 36 month period would result in revocation of the drivers CDL for 6 months in addition to the fine. Three or more offenses for a singe driver, or a group of drivers working for the same company, would result in the company being fined $1/pound for each incident.
It adds up, and fast.
And it comes as some surprise that the bill targets shippers as well. To ensure that shippers are not putting undue pressure on trucking companies, the bill also calls for a law enforcement fee of $5,000 to be levied on the shipper. This fee would go to funding increased enforcement activity by law enforcement.
Does anyone see a problem with this? Vac trucks loading water at a manifold installed on a ranchers property where there is no public or private scale to check their weight would be at the mercy of the increased DPS enforcement. Likewise, trailer dumps loading at remote sand and gravel pits would fall victim to this lunacy. Anyone think the ranchers are going to accept this risk?
Fletcher’s claim that the odds of getting caught by DPS troopers “are very slim indeed” flies in the face of those of us who work out of south Texas and have witnessed and at times, personally experienced the stepped up enforcement efforts of Texas authorities. This has coincided with the boom times brought on by the drilling in the Eagle Ford shale fields in south Texas.
Perhaps there is a problem here but not of the magnitude and hysteria being presented by the GOP.
True, Governor Rick Perry has requested the legislature look at taking some of the surplus that has accumulated in the Rainy Day Fund to use for building a stronger infrastructure. Texas is very solvent and Perry wants $3.7 billion from the fund for infrastructure improvements. We’ve got the money, let’s use it but don’t blame everything on the trucking industry and use the blue collar truck driver busting his butt to support his family as the scapegoat while giving business a free pass for the first couple of violations.
Now, where are they getting their information from concerning the state of Texas roads, which personally, traveling US 79 for 500 miles twice a week, I find to be in excellent condition. And these big, bad, obnoxious “scofflaw” oil field trucks and dumps travel the same highways I do.
According to our friend Bob Price who blogs at TEXASGOPVOTE.COM, a report from a Washington DC think tank titled The Road Information Report (TRIP), claims that 18% of Texas roads are in poor condition and an additional 27% are in mediocre condition. Alright. So researchers sitting in a glass tower in DC know more about our roads than those of us who use them do.
In one of Bob Price’s articles, he makes the claim “One single truck can do more road damage than 1,000 cars, and the numbers of trucks, especially heavy trucks, is increasing rapidly”. One single truck = 80,000 pounds. 1,000 cars = 4,000,000. (FOUR MILLION POUNDS) Is that the new GOP math?
Something else that gave me a chuckle, hell, I damned near fell out of my chair laughing is mention of an article posted in the Houston Chronicle referencing a TXDOT accident report covering the 23 county swath of the Eagle Ford Shale region. According to the TxDOT report, there were 248 fatalities, up from 177 in 2011, an increase of 40%.
The most dangerous time to drive ?
Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. D’uh? Rush hour folks and we all know how the 4 wheelers act around big trucks.
We’ll keep an eye on this bill which as stated could very well bankrupt a trucker if caught overweight through no fault or knowledge of his own and flood the Texas assembly with protests against. it.
We hope our readers will do their part, whether you run Texas or not. Legislation such as this could be coming to your home state also.