Flick the Booger
Everybody loves an inheritance. Not that they want a loved one to die in order to receive it, but there is something to be said for one generation stewarding their money wisely so heirs can benefit from it. Some people pass along debt though, and nobody likes inheriting the problems of another. That, however, is exactly what is about to happen in northeast Indiana with a new plan for weigh-in-motion (WIM) scales. The booger, as they say, is about to get flicked.
Some call it punting, others call it passing the buck. The ITEA calls it flicking the booger. This is when one person (or group) transfers a problem from themselves onto someone else. The question isn’t whether or not its intentional. The question is how is the recipient going to deal with the problem handed off to them?
Two weeks ago the Indiana Department of Transportation announced a plan to install WIM scales along I-94 between the Illinois and Michigan state lines. These scales are able to weigh trucks at highway speeds and trigger a camera to photograph the license plates of trucks which are exceeding the weight limits. The technology is very similar to the photo enforcement of red light and speed cameras in Illinois.
The Indiana DOT does not have authority to actually cite or fine these overweight trucks…yet. Instead they are going to mail notices to those carriers found to be heavy and inform them of their trespasses.
Even the simpletons who read this blog can see the slippery slope about to be slid down. Eventually either the DOT or the Indiana State Police will be citing these trucks for overweight. One can only believe the State of Indiana is not going to spend the money installing these scales just for the sake of public education.
Is there a private vendor who has lobbied Indiana to install their product? If so, they are not going to allow their equipment to be used for free, forever. They will soon want their cut of the proceeds.
It’s not that Indiana doesn’t have good reason to take action. This area is one of the heaviest traveled truck routes in the nation. Their roads are crumbling and a near catastrophic incident of an overweight vehicle crossing a bridge deck over I-65 was the final impetus for the DOT to take action.
The booger is about to be flicked. Whether or not the DOT is mailing gentle notices or multi thousand-dollar overweight citations, truckers will only hear “tickets”. Truck stop rumors and social media will not tell the truth, therefore truckers will begin to steer clear of this stretch of I-94, particularly if they know or suspect they might be overweight.
Where are these trucks going to go? Their destinations are not going to change, therefore they will turn to the surface streets to avoid the WIM scales. The local towns and counties will begin to absorb heavier volumes and weights of trucks on their roads. Good for the state coffers, bad for the locals. Will the state reimburse the locals for this unfunded mandate? Doubt it.
This is one of those instances where the Illinois economic mess will actually benefit the trucking industry. There is no money for such a system in Illinois, and the lack of legislative movement during this political stalemate will not afford an opportunity for a bill of such controversy to progress anyhow.
However, WIM scales are already being used in Illinois. Many of the interstate weigh stations have these scales embedded in the ramps leading up to the scale house. The truck weight inspectors can use these scales to filter out legal weight trucks and direct the overweight trucks onto the big scale for an evidentiary weigh.
The difference is the trucker already had an expectation of being weighed when he exited into the scalehouse. It’s well known overweight trucks will avoid roadside scales on surface streets, except when they are closed. These WIM scales will be open 24/7 which means permanent detour.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in Indiana. It is not uncommon for the successes or failures in one state to be replicated or avoided in the neighboring states.