House bill would fine shippers for their overweight containers

April 03, 1992|By Beth Schwinn | Beth Schwinn,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- You're a trucker picking up a freight container that you suspect is overweight. You could accept the container and chance getting fined by the state police, or reject the container and risk losing the customer.

That's the tale of woe Baltimore truckers such as Pruitt TY Trucking and Ringer Trucking brought to Maryland Rep. Helen Delich Bentley. She has introduced a bill to address the problem.

Under her measure, the state would fine the shipper, not the trucker, if a container was overweight.

"When a trucker goes now to pick up a container, he has no idea what the weight is," Mrs. Bentley, R-2nd, said yesterday. "The shipper says, 'So what? You don't want my business?' " It's the shipper's fault if the box is overweight, she said.

Overweight trucks -- those in excess of 80,000 pounds -- are causing the nation's roads and bridges to deteriorate faster than normal.

"We're now spending $119 billion to improve highways and bridges that have deteriorated over the past few years," Mrs. Bentley said. "If we're going to spend that kind of money, we're going to look at how to keep them from deteriorating as fast."

She testified yesterday in support of her bill before the House subcommittee on surface transportation, which is considering legislation to further deregulate the trucking industry.

Safety is the most important reason for the bill, Mrs. Bentley said. "Tractors hauling overweight containers are difficult to control and stop in an emergency," she said.

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