Truck weights are a topic that either go under the radar or evoke greatemotion, especially if you talk about increasing them.
When you ask our members how the state is doing enforcing current truck weight laws, the response is positive. In a recent MTA survey, 84 percent said enforcement consistency between jurisdictions within the state are average or better. The same held true for the overall experience of being weighed at a fixed or mobile site where 87 percent rated it average or better. Respondents using the on-line overweight permit system were even happier, giving an 88 percent score. Since our members are primarily over the road and not local operations these results are not so surprising.
There is also strong support for weigh station bypass technology. 47 percent said that adding PrePass at fixed scales sites would be of high or very high value. The most notable dissatisfaction came not in enforcement, but in education. Respondents consistently expressed that the statutes, charts and road signs are confusing. One responder summed it up when he said, “The road we are on says ‘9-ton’ but what does that even mean?”
We collected this data in preparation for my presentation at a day-long joint meeting between the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Department of Transportation focused on weight enforcement and education. I had the opportunity to voice what truckers like and what they want improved.
Above all, our members want two things when it comes to weight enforcement: clarity and consistency. We want to know exactly what the laws are and what is needed to comply. We also want roadside personnel trained in such a manner that they also clearly know the laws and can apply them the same way every time.
Weight enforcement technology is advancing faster than our ability to adapt. It can cut both ways. “Virtual” weigh-in-motion scales are a reality today. Embedded scales in roads weigh the truck at highway speeds and video cameras capture the offense and an image of the truck. A road trooper down the road then pulls the truck over and writes the citation. This is going to cause a lot of heartburn with certain sectors of trucking.
On a positive note, I heard many comments about using technology like PrePass to let the compliant truckers keep moving. We support the concept of focusing limited enforcement resources on the bad sectors. There was also much discussion about creating mobile web resources so truckers can obtain real-time, weight-based routing information.
Have an opinion about how Minnesota is doing to educate and enforce Minnesota’s weight laws? Send your comments to mta@mntruck or post on facebook.com/mntruck. Weight enforcement is not going away so help us make it the best it can be for our industry.