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Old 07-11-2019, 11:47 AM
pieceoftheuniverse is offline
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What's the point of truck weigh stations?


I'm with Elizabeth on this one, albeit for completely different reasons:
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...eigh-stations/

OK, so the truck and/or cargo are fined if the trailer is found to be overweight. But the fines are laughably, hilariously low, to the point where any moderately capable accountant is just going to factor it in as the cost of doing business:

Alaska: $100 base, +0.15 per pound max
California: $175 for the first 5,000 pounds over
Vermont: $150 for each 1000 pounds over
Mississippi: 0.11 per pound overweight

In some states, the trailer could be a full five tons overweight, thoroughly wrecking the road as it travels, and potentially pay a fine of maybe a thousand dollars. Damage to the road, incidentally, that costs approximately 3.4k per mile. Most trucks don't go much farther than 50 miles from their base, but those that do can rack up the mileage something fierce. So the taxpayer is effectively subsidizing the trucking industry.

Why aren't the fines more in line with the cost to repair the damage they cause?

(In my perfect draconian society, the excess cargo would be seized and sold at auction. I'm sure I would be the first one against the wall when the revolution came)
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by pieceoftheuniverse View Post
Why aren't the fines more in line with the cost to repair the damage they cause?
Truck lobbyists

Last edited by Patch; 07-11-2019 at 11:52 AM.
  #3  
Old 07-11-2019, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceoftheuniverse View Post
I'm with Elizabeth on this one, albeit for completely different reasons:
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...eigh-stations/

OK, so the truck and/or cargo are fined if the trailer is found to be overweight. But the fines are laughably, hilariously low, to the point where any moderately capable accountant is just going to factor it in as the cost of doing business:

Alaska: $100 base, +0.15 per pound max
California: $175 for the first 5,000 pounds over
Vermont: $150 for each 1000 pounds over
Mississippi: 0.11 per pound overweight

In some states, the trailer could be a full five tons overweight, thoroughly wrecking the road as it travels, and potentially pay a fine of maybe a thousand dollars. Damage to the road, incidentally, that costs approximately 3.4k per mile. Most trucks don't go much farther than 50 miles from their base, but those that do can rack up the mileage something fierce. So the taxpayer is effectively subsidizing the trucking industry.

Why aren't the fines more in line with the cost to repair the damage they cause?

(In my perfect draconian society, the excess cargo would be seized and sold at auction. I'm sure I would be the first one against the wall when the revolution came)
I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
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Old 07-11-2019, 01:16 PM
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in some places its also a well-entrenched mafia industry

Because a lot of truck companies are mafia owned and they overweight the trucks often with cargo thats now getting sold illegally hence messing up the roads

Now when its time for the highway to be fixed they put it up for public bidding wanna guess who also owns most of the companies that doing the bidding? the same damn guys that messed it up in the first place ..and when the roads fixed they use the cheapest stuff they can get to make it " good enough" keeping the rest of the money and in 3 years or so they have to rebuild the roads ....... its a never-ending cycle .....
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Old 07-11-2019, 03:07 PM
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My only quarrel with the response to the question is that she referred to Taj Mahal as the singer for Six Days On The Road. While I have no issues with Mr. Mahal, everyone knows that the definitive rendition of that song was done by Dave Dudley, the truck drivin' sun of a gun.
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Old 07-11-2019, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceoftheuniverse View Post
OK, so the truck and/or cargo are fined if the trailer is found to be overweight. But the fines are laughably, hilariously low, to the point where any moderately capable accountant is just going to factor it in as the cost of doing business:
This has nothing to do with weight stations but you reminded me of another case of fines being treated as the cost of doing business. I'm sure we've all seen UPS delivery trucks parked illegally. In some cities their trucks get ticketed quite often. UPS just pays the fines and treats it as part of the cost of doing business -- apparently having their drivers park in a legal spot and walk a greater distance would cost them more in terms of lost time.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:38 AM
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There seems to be a misunderstanding of what legal weight limits mean. For instance, in Texas(and other states are similar) the maximum gross weight for a standard 18-wheeler is 80,000 lbs, about half of which is the truck and trailer itself. As long as the (say) 40,000lbs of payload is loaded correctly(per axle weight, height, width, length, etc. limits), the standard registration, tax stickers, etc. will suffice. If any of those limits are exceeded, then you can still ship that load, but you need to get the proper permits . Those permits are easily available and the price is based on which standard limits are exceeded and by how much. Overweight permits are far more common than the more visible(because they require escorts and/or placards while moving on the highway) "oversize load" permits. The fines levied by tickets given at weigh stations are designed to be a lot more than the permits would cost, thus encouraging truckers and shippers to get the proper permits in the future. It's usually arranged by the shipper because they know the product, not the trucker/freight company, even though the individual driver is responsible for putting his truck on the road as loaded.

So being "a full five tons overweight" - a mere 10,000 pounds, is not "thoroughly wrecking the road as it travels". You just need to pay the right fee to do it. The OP seems to think that heavier than standard loads are completely illegal. If that were the case no one could ever legally haul a piece of heavy equipment to a construction site. Some earth movers can weigh 200,000lbs each.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by nightshadea View Post
...and when the roads fixed they use the cheapest stuff they can get to make it " good enough" keeping the rest of the money and in 3 years or so they have to rebuild the roads ....... its a never-ending cycle .....
That is absolutely untrue (on DOT/FHA contracts). The materials used for building roads is highly controlled, tested, and monitored by independent entities. The low bidder and high bidder use essentially the same materials.

Road repairs typically don't last long because we're forced (due to budget limitations) to use band-aid repairs. Give me enough budget (and crack down on overloaded trucks), and I can build roads that will outlive us all.

signed,
a Resident Engineer
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayaker View Post

So being "a full five tons overweight" - a mere 10,000 pounds, is not "thoroughly wrecking the road as it travels". You just need to pay the right fee to do it. The OP seems to think that heavier than standard loads are completely illegal. If that were the case no one could ever legally haul a piece of heavy equipment to a construction site. Some earth movers can weigh 200,000lbs each.
I would say being 10,000 pounds over is a huge deal considering that the damage to roads is considered to be to the 4th power of the relative load.

So the overweight permit fees should be appropriately large to reflect the damage done to the roads (which will then have to be paid by the taxpayer). If developer wants that huge earth mover, he should have to pay according to all the road damage that load causes. No doubt that cost gets pushed down to all the people down the line (building tenants, etc), but that is better than every tax payer having to pay for it.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:35 PM
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My point was that overweight loads are a normal and necessary part of everyday commerce, and not some egregious flauting of the law. Most overweight loads are legal, and the weigh stations catch the outliers, who are penalized by the fines costing much more than the permits. Whether or not the fees are adequate to cover the expected road damage is another discussion, and should be addressed by state DOTs. If the permit fees are raised, the fines for not getting them would likely be raised proportionately.
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by nightshadea View Post
in some places its also a well-entrenched mafia industry

Because a lot of truck companies are mafia owned and they overweight the trucks often with cargo thats now getting sold illegally hence messing up the roads
Do you have a cite for any of this?
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bayaker View Post
egregious flauting of the law.
Thank you, except it's "flouting." Closer than the usual flaunting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
Do you have a cite for any of this?
You ain't from around these parts, are ya?

Last edited by dropzone; 07-12-2019 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 07-13-2019, 10:25 AM
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Thank you, except it's "flouting." Closer than the usual flaunting. ...
That's what I get for not using Spellcheck. Perhaps flauting the law is the act of a criminal flute player.
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:38 PM
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They do more than just weigh trucks at weigh stations. In Virginia a couple weeks ago I was pulled over to a pit so an officer could walk underneath my truck and inspect my brakes. Then all the usual lights, horn, blinkers. etc. He also inspected my now old fashioned, paper log books. Most professional drivers all use electronic logbooks now, but I'm usually in the office, and not a full time driver, so I'm allowed to use the paper ones for an occasional trip. If he had found any flaws in my logbook, he could have fined me, and directed me to a parking space, if I was required to be off duty for an amount of time necessary to be legal again.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:37 AM
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I can't remember the last time I've even seen a weigh station that was open much less insufficiently fining violators, at least not in this region. "Weigh Station Closed" is the standard around here.
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