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03 Feb 08 State’s fines are light for overweight trucks

The Ohio State Highway Patrol cited Cincinnati-based Rumpke Waste Inc.’s drivers 54 times in 2007 for operating overweight garbage trucks on local roads.

Drivers for Rauch Trucking Co. of Dayton were cited 22 times last year for overweight loads, mostly debris hauled from demolition sites.

Police say these and other repeat violators show Ohio’s fines for overweight trucks don’t have enough teeth.

A truck that’s 20,000 pounds overweight can cause as much wear and tear on a road as nearly 10,000 cars, said Sgt. Dave Waggoner of the Madison County sheriff’s office.

Ohio’s fines for overweight trucks are in the lowest 25 percent of all states, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of state fines compiled by the American Transportation Research Institute.

Ohio’s fines are slightly higher than in neighboring Kentucky and West Virginia, but are far lower than in other neighboring states.

A truck found to be 10,000 pounds overweight at the weigh station along Interstate 70 in Preble County, for example, would pay $415 in Eaton Municipal Court. But the same overload would result in $1,100 in fines and court costs just over the state line in Indiana. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, the fine for a truck found to be 10,000 pounds overweight is three to four times higher.

“In Ohio, they consider the fines to be the cost of doing business,” Waggoner said.

Rauch said it is drivers, not his company, who are cited. He said it can be difficult to evenly distribute the weight of debris on a truck.

As it replaces trucks in its fleets, Rumpke is spending an extra $12,000 per truck for “tailgate tag axles,” which distribute the weight of the trucks more evenly, Rumpke spokeswoman Amanda Pratt said.

“It’s not something we disregard,” Pratt said. “We’re making an extreme investment to avoid being overweight.”

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