More overload fees have been handed down to truck owners and operators by the North Dakota Highway Patrol so far in 2012 than in all of 2011.
The NDHP said as of Sept. 18, troopers have cited 1,295 overload violations, which amounts to $2.1 million overload fees alone, compared to $1.9 million in 2011. The agency has also found a number of safety violations as well.
Excessively heavy vehicles that exceed the state limits cause damage to roadway surfaces, which in turn causes potential hazards for motorists.
â€śOur troopers are committed to protecting all North Dakota motorists, including the roadways they drive on,â€ť said NDHP Col. James Prochniak. â€śEnforcing overload violations enhances roadway safety and reduces repair costs.â€ť
Enforcing the weight limits â€“ which can vary from road to road and week to week â€“ has become a focal point of law enforcement and governing agencies tasked with maintaining a viable roadway system. Repairing one mile of damaged road can cost up to $200,000 according to the Barnes County Highway Department.
Locally, the bulk of overloaded trucks cited were moving construction materials or agriculture-related loads. Traffic in the oil fields in western North Dakota is credited with the major rise in citations. In that part of the state, the NDHPâ€™s weight limit enforcement has been beefed up with more personnel and resources. Of the NDHPâ€™s 22 motor carrier troopers, 14 are stationed in western North Dakota.
During a commercial vehicle inspection saturation in northwest North Dakota, the NDHP and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration performed 263 safety inspections, which included checking vehicles and the qualifications of the driver operating them. During the three-day effort in late August, 36 vehicles were exceeding weight limits, 42 of the vehicles had equipment violations that took them out of service and 18 drivers were suspended for driver-related violations. The total fees collected during the enforcement exceeded $46,000.