2013 Texas Legislature - Allen Fletcher's Bill Regarding Heavy Trucks - One Step Closer to Safer Roads
Texas highways and roads moved one step closer to being safer and properly maintained after a hearing this week in Austin about HB 3094 by Republican Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress). Currently there is little deterrent in the law that would keep trucks from overloading causing roads that are designed to last 20-30 years to crumble under the excessive loads in less than 10 years. This is a huge cost to taxpayers and a safety risk to all who drive on damaged Texas roads.
In a hearing held by the House Transportation Committee, chaired by Representative Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), Fletcher laid out HB 3094 and discussed the merits of the bill. Fletcher said something needs to be done about overweight trucks running rampant on our streets that are tearing up the roads and creating a public safety and maintenance crisis. He also discussed the unfair business advantage gained by companies that are cheating the system. Currently, the average fine for violations is about $110 - IF you get caught. And the odds of getting caught are pretty slim.
HB 3094 would increase the fines for trucks that are more than 5% overweight to $1 per pound overweight. A truck that is 20,000 pounds overweight would receive a $20,000 fine. The money generated by these fines would be distributed equally between TxDOT for maintenance and DPS to encourage more enforcement.
The current law is a toothless tiger. There is absolutely no deterrent to keep companies from running overweight loads. In addition to the increased fine discussed above, there would also be fines against trucking companies that habitually run overweight trucks. Additionally, when it can be shown that particular shippers are also engaging in habitual violations, there would be fines against them as well. This bill attacks the problem from all sides - the driver, the trucking company and the companies shipping overweight loads.
The combination of heavy trucks and heavy traffic is devastating to Texas roads.
Many companies currently cheat the system. The result is that they gain an unfair competitive advantage over companies that follow the law while you get stuck with the bill of fixing these destroyed roads and run the risk of accident and injury by driving on pothole-covered roads.
There is no new regulation in this bill. Only an increase in penalties and an increase in enforcement. Companies that follow the law have nothing to fear. Because of this, industry association and responsible businesses are supporting the legislation. In fact, no one rose or registered to speak against the bill.
A final revision of the bill is pending before it is brought to a vote by the transportation committee. That vote is expected in the next week or two. If you believe that overweight trucks are a problem on our roads and want something done about this, please contact your legislator or members of the House Transportation Committee and let them know of your support.
There is also a bill in the Texas Senate from Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). An additional bill, primarliy related to logging trucks is being offered by Representative James White (R-Woodville). Discussions are being facilitated to bring these bills together to make a stronger solution for Texas and our roads.