Weigh Too Much?: State Fails To Inspect Majority Of Big Rigs - WSPA.com

Weigh Too Much?: State Fails To Inspect Majority Of Big Rigs

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An estimated one billion 18-wheelers tear down South Carolina interstates each year, and the heavier they are the more damage they can do to roads. An estimated one billion 18-wheelers tear down South Carolina interstates each year, and the heavier they are the more damage they can do to roads.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -

An estimated one billion 18-wheelers tear down South Carolina interstates each year, and the heavier they are the more damage they can do to roads.

In fact, The South Carolina Department of Transportation spends almost $36 million a year to repair cracks, holes, and general wear-and-tear on interstates.

By law, big rigs must not weigh more than 80,000 pounds, but we may never know if the majority are within that legal limit because, according to DOT estimates, roughly 997 million of trucks sail past or around those interstate weigh stations every year and never get checked.

A number of drivers interviewed for this story say they cut down back roads just to avoid interstate weigh stations and possible inspections, but the S.C. Transport Police, the agency responsible for enforcing commercial traffic laws, says it's aware of the problem.

"We realize, unless they have a good reason to be on those back roads, that more than likely they're trying to get by with something," says Sgt. Dean Dill with transport police.

Dill is one of about 115 state transport police officers in charge of regulating the estimated one billion trucks that travel S.C. interstates annually, and he admits not all of them get checked.

"There's only so many we can do, you know," said Dill.

Dill says because of an officer shortage, weigh stations are open only sporadically. He says officers will open weigh stations for a few minutes at a time to pull in a few trucks, weigh and inspect them, and then they close and go patrol the roads.

Leaving the weigh stations opened 24/7 would create massive backups of 18-wheelers, according to Dill.

Instead transport police carry portable scales to weigh trucks that officers stop on the side of the road, but those portable scales are used just a few thousand times a year.

And considering the estimated billion truck trips annually, transport police are getting creative and building state-of-the-art weigh stations that will be able to scan more trucks. There's one already opened in Dorchester County along I-95, but a second will be installed in Anderson County.

The stations will feature scales planted under the interstate several hundred yards before the station. Tag readers will also scan the trucks, and if the scales or readers show any non-compliance, green arrows will light up directing the big rigs toward the weigh station where they'll receive closer scrutiny.

That's scheduled to open mid-July.

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