The Dickinson Press recently wrote a story that said one in four trucks driving in oil country had safety violations serious enough to put the vehicles out of service.
I posted the story on my Facebook page, which prompted the following reader question:
Great article! I was left with one question, though. Are the fines on those violations substantial enough to make the truck owners/drivers fix the problem or lighten their loads?
Thanks for writing! I contacted Lt. Jody Skogen at the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Here’s what he said:
“There are a variety of factors that motivate owner/operators to operate their vehicles in a safe, responsible manner. Fines do act as an important deterrent, as fees for commercial motor vehicle violations often exceed those assessed to non-commercial operators.
“Placing vehicles out of service, even for a short period of time, creates additional motivation for owners to operate a well maintained fleet, as trucks generally don’t create revenue when parked. Frequent safety violations also impact companies in a negative way, as a federal safety rating is applied to all commercial carriers. Frequent violations, whether they are driver or equipment related, affect companies in a negative manner.
“Safety and weight inspections are performed on a daily basis throughout the state. North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers performed 14,834 commercial motor carrier inspections in 2009, (and) 5.5 percent of these inspections resulted in a driver or vehicle being placed out of service for defects or violations.
“In 2010 the number of inspections increased to 16,920. The out of service ratio for the 2010 calendar year inspections dropped to 4.4 percent, an improvement of over 1 percent. Typical out-of-service fees range from $100 to $500.
“The overload fee scale is set by legislative statute. The fees are as follows for weight in excess of legal limits. For instance, an operator of a vehicle that is 8,200 pounds over legal limits would be assessed a fee of $575. An overload of twice that weight (16,400 pounds) would cost $2,550.”
(NOTE: Here are examples of the fines. This is not the whole list. You can find the full list at the link above.)
1 to 1,000 pounds $20
5,001 to 6,000 pounds $305
10,001 to 11,000 pounds $1,100
15,001 to 16,000 pounds $1,920
20,001 to 21,000 pounds $4,200
25,001 to 26,000 pounds $5,200
29,001 to 30,000 pounds $6,000
Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.
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You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505. Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.