At a meeting of the Joint Truck Regulatory Board on Wednesday, Tim Gillespie, the sole truck regulatory officer for Barnes, Dickey, LaMoure and Stutsman Counties said after a little more than a year, the Truck Regulatory Program has had tremendous results, but more work needs to be done.
Gillespie, who was deputized in each of the four counties, began patrolling all four after he assumed his duties in early May 2011. He is on the lookout for overweight trucks which are the main cause of road damage. His efforts have saved the counties countless money in road repairs in the past 14 months, because it can cost up to $200,000 per mile to fix damaged roads.
Gillespie said he found fewer violations during this spring, which he credited to two factors: A warm winter allowed producers to get their product to market, and many were too afraid to haul overweight loads during spring road restrictions. He said he received several concerned calls about what limitations would be allowed during that time.
“I did catch a few; I got one guy that was 28,000 (pounds) over,” Gillespie said. “For the most part, I’m starting to catch people now. Now it seems like they’re starting to relax. With construction season, now I’m starting to see the overloads.”
Gillespie said at this time last year, 80 to 90 percent of the trucks he stopped were overloaded and overweight.
“Now it’s down to about 70 to 80 percent, so this thing is working, you can see that in the numbers,” he said.
An overloaded truck appears to have a top-heavy rocking motion as it travels and the tires can be a dead giveaway that the truck is carrying too much weight. A leaning trailer may also signify improper weight distribution and Gillespie also checks the safety equipment on the truck, including lights and breaks.
The success of the program has not gone unnoticed. Representatives from Kidder County have approached Gillespie and members of the board for inclusion in the program, but the general consensus of the board is while the extra money from a fifth member county would benefit the budget, Gillespie is already stretched to the limit.
“I think four (counties) is the max, and pushing it, really,” said board chairman John Froelich, a Barnes County Commissioner and former truck driver.
Gillespie said the travel time alone eats a lot of hours, but a major time obstacle he has to deal with comes after an overweight truck is found. The officer told the board he has waited from three to six hours for the fee to be paid by cash or check, by the truck’s owner, which must be paid before the driver can continue on their way.
The board will look into getting a credit card machine for Gillespie’s truck, but otherwise, if he has to wait for more than an hour, the truck will be impounded.