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MDOT official: Some trucks in awful shape

Published 10:45 am Friday, May 9, 2014

Some of the trucks on Mississippi’s highways are in pitiful condition, Sgt. Carl Houston of Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement division told Port City Kiwanis on Thursday.

During inspections, Houston said, he’s seen everything from steering columns to brake drums in poor enough condition that they were about to fall off the truck.

“If we weren’t out there, it would be even worse,” he said.

Because of safety concerns even with trucks that pass inspection, Houston advised to never drive next to a tractor-trailer rig for longer than needed.

“When I see a person ride beside an 18-wheeler for a mile or so, that scares me,” Houston said. “There’s a lot of stuff on that truck that can kill you.”

The law enforcement division of MDOT is responsible for state and federal laws related to maintenance of commercial vehicles, drivers’ logbooks and ensuring that commercial vehicles are not overweight.

“We don’t write speeding tickets but we write all the rest of them,” Houston said.

Part of enforcing weight limits is the use of the weigh station scales along Interstate 20, Houston said. The scales in Bovina are some of the busiest in the state, seeing between 2,000 and 3,000 trucks each day.

Commercial vehicles traveling along I-20 are allowed to carry 80,000 pounds of freight, and companies are allowed to pay a yearly fee in order to carry an additional 4,000 pounds, Houston said.

Still, many trucks come in weighing in excess of 90,000 pounds, he said, recalling one truck that he stopped that weighed more than 104,000 pounds.

“Log trucks and grain trucks are the worst,” he said. “They are almost always overweight.”

Not every truck that passes though Warren County has to stop at the sales though.

Sensors in the road allow trucks that participate in the state’s pre-pass system to bypass the scale if they are not overweight. If the truck is overweight, a sensor inside goes off and directs the truck driver to the scales, Houston said.

Trucks that participate in the pre-pass system are still subject to be stopped randomly as part of a pre-set percentage in the computer-run system to check for proper paperwork, fuel, registration and weight, MDOT officials have said.