October 22, 2010

Weights and Consequences

I was going to post a picture of the Rocky Mountains covered in snow, but I can't get blogger to load pictures. It says my "cookies" is disabled and even though I've gone in and enabled it, as the instructions said to do, I still can't load pictures.

Until the issue is resolved, I'll just go with the other intent of this post, which was to answer a question that farmgirl_dk asked in her comment on yesterday's post.

"...what would have happened if the DOT scale had shown you to be overweight? Fines and fees? A citation? Would you guys actually be responsible, since the farmer didn't have a scale? I don't blame you for being nervous!"

The answer is yes, we'd still be held responsible if we were over weight, even though the farmer didn't have a scale to weigh the load on. Its our load and we're responsible for staying within the law, regardless. Once we sign the bills, its our baby.

The consequences would have been a fine of some sort, and possible a citation also. I can't say for sure how much. We've never been fined for weight. We were caught one time in North Dakota in a random roadside inspection. But he didn't fine us. He just sold us a $10 overweight permit. Talk about a slap on the wrist. 

Each axle has a legal limit. Generally the trailer and drive axles have a limit of 34,000lbs, while the steers have a weight limit of 12,000lbs. The whole truck has a limit of 80,000lbs. (this is general...if you have more axles you can weigh more, or you can permit for a little more in some states but that gets complicated to explain)

On occasion you can be within your 80,000lb limit, but maybe there is more on one of the axles than there should be, and in that case, the DOT can require the driver to go shovel the load over onto another axle until your legal. We've never had to do this. In the case of refer and dry van trailers, they are capable of moving their axles further back on the trailer or forward as needed to redistribute the weight. But a hopper trailers axles are fixed in place so we're not able to do that.
Also, if you are relatively close to where you loaded, they can make you go back and fix it by taking some product off. We've never had to do that either.

These weights and consequences are standard for all types of trucking, generally.

Malcolm believes, and I can believe it based on our lack of DOT harassments, that they tend to be lenient on hoppers and also cow haulers, depending on the state, but most western states seem to be really lenient. Our product isn't in pre-weighed boxes on pallets that can be strategically placed in the trailer so that the weights are just so. Its just dumped in and many times its near guess work as to exactly where the weights are falling. There seems to be about a 500lb grace given to us, because we usually are overloaded by about that, and they've never bothered us. But when we're more than 500 lbs over and know about it, we get a little nervous because we're not sure how far we can push the limit without something being said about it. Hopefully we never find out.

My fears were confirmed about loading in LA on a Friday. We're finishing up here in San Bernadino, CA and are loading down near Long Beach. Initially our appointment was to load tomorrow afternoon at 2:00, but when I called for directions, I asked if it was possible to get it done earlier. He said if we can be there by 3:00 this afternoon he'll load us today.
This means that we'll have the ultimate pleasure of competing with what must be the entire population of Los Angelas as they exit the city for their weekend get aways. Its a nightmare. However, the alternative is trying to find somewhere to park and spend the next 24 hours in a crowded, dirty, and not always so safe city (no offense to you Californians, but I've heard a lot of stories of truck drivers getting shot and stabbed while they parked in odd spots waiting for their appointments and I don't relish the idea).

We can't deliver in Nashville till Monday night, but at least if we can get out of LA tonight, we can get some sleep and then have a not so strenuous 2000 mile drive to my home state, and then hopefully dinner with my sister as a reward for doing battle with the Californian's and their mad dash for escape from the city.


Anonymous said...

ha ha I'd pick Nashville over LA any day of the week. I sure hope you make it out of LA with as few headaches as possible. Have a great weekend.

Judy said...

Your explanation of the weight/overweight subject was interesting! I know Doug is always worried if he is hauling gravel as it is easy to be overloaded, scoria isn't as easy to overload. He has always said that the North Dakota DOT and Highway Patrol are pretty lenient on ag type haulers Where as Montana isn't even if you are almost to the state line with a oversized load of hay just before dark!
I hope you get to enjoy your time with your sister in TN!

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Last spring a guy I work with got himself a hefty fine of around $6800.00 CAD, if I remember correctly, for being overloaded with a track hoe. It was the same day that the winter weights came to an end for the spring, and he should have had an extra trailer(jeep) in there for more wheels. Just thought I would mention it to give an idea of what it can cost. He was quite a bit over though,(I'm guessing about 8000 kilograms, or 17,600 lbs over weight, going by what he was hauling and what he had for a trailer), so it dos'nt always cost this much. Alot of times it depends on the cop also. This one was'nt even a DOT, he was RCMP.