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Truck enforcement - really?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Trucking McHenry County, Illinois

Truck enforcement - really?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
September 10, 2013

This morning's Northwest Herald carries an article about truck enforcement in McHenry County.

With all due respect to the reporter, the article was a joke. He no doubt believes the line of baloney he was fed for his article. And a reporter ought to be able to believe sources. It's not the reporter's fault when he reports what he is told.

But let's look at the content.

He is right that a "select" group monitors trucks. Since he mentioned McHenry County, you'd think that he might be including deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, because the big rigs might be mostly on County roads, outside municipalities. No city cops are roaming County roads. Is anyone?

Deputy Chief Birk, of the City of McHenry PD, is right. Overweight trucks damage roads and are dangerous in other ways.

Who are the "experts" referred to? "Enforcing" truck laws means writing tickets. "Educating" truck drivers and owners is a kind gesture.

The Sheriff's Department reportedly issued 191 tickets between 2009 and 2012. That's a four-year period. 191/4 = 50/year. Or one ticket a week. I'll bet if you look at the records, you'll see the bulk of the tickets were written in 2009 and 2010. Still, on the average, it's only one a week. Which is nothing, compared to the problem. Probably one ticket a day could be written. Why not?

Trucking company owners and farmers are powerful politically. And the load rolls downhill from there.

The article says, "The department has one dedicated truck enforcement officer who also handles accident investigations and several deputies with specialized truck enforcement training."

What it doesn't say is who the "dedicated" truck enforcement deputy at MCSD is, how many hours he is on the road every week looking for truck violations, how many tickets he has written, etc. I don't know who that deputy is. In case Keith or Andy gets upset with me, that deputy and I have never communicated.

And who are the "several" deputies? Glad they have the training. It's too bad they aren't allowed to put their training to work. Has any one of them written even one ticket this year? And how many in the past three years? Twelve tickets in six months? Those deputies should either be allowed off the leash to do their jobs well, or they should be replaced.

Are there orders from the top of the food chain at MCSD to leave truckers alone? Only the deputies know...

The article further stated, "'Commercial motor vehicles and roadway safety are key to our economic recovery,' Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said. 'If drivers are operating illegally or unsafely, it is our responsibility to educate them and protect our community.'”

If that's not a political statement, I'll eat the newspaper page it's printed on. First of all, it doesn't make any sense. Secondly, it's wrong. Here's the correct statement: "If drivers are operating illegally or unsafely, it is the responsibility of the Sheriff's Department to cite them."

And this statement? "Load weight limits for 18-wheelers cannot exceed 80,000 pounds, the equivalent of 9,600 passenger cars driving over a section of roadway at the same time." No, it is absolutely not the equivalent, because the 9,600 cars are on their own set of four wheels, not piled atop one another. The load on an 18-wheeler is supported by four axles of four tires each, or 16 tires. That's what's breaking up our highways.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Dept. does not have an operating truck enforcement unit. It used to have one. It should have one. It does not have one.

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