The most important life lessons learned are from bad decisions made. Time and experience can be excellent teachers when a lesson is learned from poor decisions. Experience comes from a way of living and making adjustments. Failure to learn from mistakes runs the risk of repeating them. Unfortunately, for many people, it takes a few repeats of the same mistake to learn the lesson. One costly mistake that is often made in trucking is operating overweight vehicles.
Overweight vehicles come in many different varieties. These vehicles can be overweight on an individual axle, overweight on a tandem or series of axles, overweight on the overall gross weight or overweight on registration.
Vehicles operating at legal weight can also be ‘temporarily overweight’ if they cross an elevated structure, are driving down a weight restricted road or have their tandem or fifth wheel in an incorrect position. Vehicles operating under the authority of an overweight permit can be overweight if their axle spacings are incorrect, if the wrong number of axles are engaged or if the driver makes a wrong turn onto a road not listed on the permit.
Thankfully, there is a way for overweight vehicles to make adjustments and keep commerce progressing – legalize it. No, the ITEA isn’t talking about a green leafy substance, but rather legalizing the load carried. So, before your eyes turn red and hazy and you get the munchies, please read on.
The method in which the load is legalized depends on the way the vehicle is overweight.
Overweight on Axles or Gross Weight – The solution here is relatively unpretentious. The load either needs to be adjusted or part of the load needs to be offloaded. A simple task if the load is palletized, but not so simple if the load is an aggregate. An adjustment of the fifth wheel location or sliding the trailer tandem back or forward may also accomplish the task.
Overweight on Registration – Another easy fix. The Illinois Secretary of State will allow a vehicle owner to register for as much or as little registration weight as desired. Despite rumors and wives’ tales, there is no such rule mandating a person to buy specific license plates or purchase enough registration weight to cover the GVWR of the vehicle.
An owner can buy a brand new 2017 Peterbilt 579 sleeper cab and walk into the Secretary of State and register the truck for 8,000 pounds. The same person can buy a new Ford F150 and register that vehicle for 80,000 pounds. There are no rules to the contrary.
Not purchasing enough registration weight is a huge problem in the Land of Lincoln. Truck enforcement officers issue more tickets to truckers for being overweight on their registration than any other type of overweight ticket. Fleet managers and owner/operators need to know the actual gross weight their vehicles will be operating at and register their vehicles accordingly.
In the event a truck is found to be operating above its registered weight, there are two easy solutions. One, offload part of the load to lower the weight to the registered weight. Two, purchase more registered weight at that very moment before the truck is driven any further.
Overweight on a Permit – Any vehicle operating on a valid permit must be within the weight limits listed on the permit. If a permit load is found to be operating beyond these weights, the permittee needs to reapply for a new permit covering the actual weight of the vehicle at the time it was stopped and weighed.
Being able to fix a mistake on scene and continuing operations is something unique to the trucking industry. When police stop drunk drivers, the officer does not stay on scene and wait for the driver to sober up and then let them drive away. A driver with a suspended driver’s license cannot simply call the Secretary of State to fix the problem over the phone. When these types of violations are discovered, there is no passing go. It’s straight to jail.
The best way to fix an overweight vehicle is to prevent it from being overweight in the first place. Read Chapter 15 of the Illinois Vehicle Code where laws pertaining to vehicle weights are codified. Follow those rules, call the ITEA with questions and avoid costly mistakes!