The state of Texas has established new laws to increase truck safety, such as increasing the number of agencies that can enforce height and weight rules, according to Land Line.
Supporters said the new laws will help by reducing damage to bridges and overpasses and decreasing the number of overweight and overloaded trucks traversing city roads and highways.
Critics of the new laws said a concern was police officers issuing an excessive number of citations.
Currently, the Texas Department of Public Safety is the only agency that enforces rules for overweight trucks, with certain exceptions in some counties. Trucks that weigh more than permitted can net fines of $100 – $10,000, depending on the extent of excess weight.
The new laws take effect Sept. 1, 2019.
Under the new laws, other law enforcement agencies can enforce truck weight rules. Among them will be police in Cherokee County of Jacksonville, Texas..
Texas state Sen. Robert Nichols, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, noted the new safety enforcement authority in relation to the existence of three U.S. highways — 175, 79 and 69 — that intersect Jacksonville.
Another one of the new laws permits police officers in the Permian Basin, in western Texas, to become certified by the state to inspect trucks.
Police officers in the city of Katy will be authorized to enforce commercial vehicle standards for overweight trucks. The change is key for two reasons, supporters said:
- Truckers are using downtown Katy roadways to avoid Interstate 10 congestion.
- The Department of Public Safety doesn’t have the resources to police downtown Katy continually.
Overweight, Overloaded, or Improperly Loaded Trucks
Truck drivers are supposed to use weigh stations along trucking routes regularly in order to ensure they abide by weight rules. Problems that can occur if a truck is overloaded or overweight, according to legal information website Justia:
- An overweight truck might go down an incline faster than the driver expects.
- An overweight truck may require additional braking force to stop in time.
- Overloading can loosen and even eject cargo from the truck, causing crashes.
- Overloading can cause tire blowouts and loss of steering control while changing lanes or making turns.
Cargo is more likely to shift, which can result in loads being distributed improperly. Loads must be properly distributed on the truck to avoid overloading any single axle. Overloading can cause the truck to be off-balance and improper distribution can lead to crashes and roll-overs.
A bill on the governor’s desk would authorize a sheriff or deputy sheriff in Williamson County, just north of Austin, to apply for certification to enforce truck rules.
Stopping the damage that big trucks exert by smacking into overpasses and bridges is the intention of another new law. The measure specifies that the owner of the vehicle would be liable for any damage to a bridge or overpass caused by vehicle height.
Drivers of trucks that exceed height rules also could be charged. Violators would face misdemeanor charges. The charges could not exceed the cost of the damage that the truck made to the overpass or bridge.
In 2018, trucks struck overpasses 82 times and caused over $20 million in damage, Nichols said.
Contact Chad Jones Law today for more information about the new Texas laws widening truck safety enforcement and for help with any 18-wheeler, car and motorcycle accidents.