Overweight or not? Truck-Weight Education Program has the answers
In recent years, legislative changes have increased allowable truck weights for some industries and for some vehicle configurations, complicating an already complicated and technical area of law. The Minnesota Truck-Weight Education Program deciphers these laws and explains the configurations in easy-to-understand language. Free classes statewide teach attendees how to haul larger—but legal—weights. The program is funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in cooperation with Alexandria Technical and Community College and Minnesota LTAP. Greg A. Hayes, the developer and coordinator of the training, discusses recent legal changes and shares some program highlights below.
How have truck-weight laws changed?
Legislation has increased allowable truck weight if trucks are built and configured correctly. For example, legislation in 2008 increased allowable weight up to an additional 17,000 pounds gross weight for specified commodities if the trucks are configured according to new regulations.
Currently, some timber and unprocessed agricultural haulers are allowed increased weights. Industries that are excluded, such as gravel, aggregate, and construction, ask why: “How does the road know the difference between a load of grain and a load of gravel?” They feel they should also have the option of the additional gross weight if they use the same configurations.
The 2015 legislative session heard several bills to extend increased weights to other commodities. Only one bill—a ‘porta-potty’ weight exemption—passed. The bill allows haulers to service portable toilets up to 7-ton limits during spring load restrictions. I expect we’ll see further attempts at truckweight changes in future legislative sessions.
What do the classes cover?
The training explains the laws governing gross weights, axle weights, tire weights, road-restriction weights, and seasonally increased (winter and harvest) weights, and the differences between the state and local transportation systems. Classroom projects start with the simplest truck and graduate to more complex configurations.
Free classes start again in the fall!
Minnesota LTAP offers at least 15 classes each year. Class sizes are limited, and registration is required. Stay tuned for dates and locations:
Who attends the training?
Attendees come from many types of organizations, such as trucking companies and truck manufacturers, township and county road authorities, scale operators, aggregate haulers, and law enforcement. More than 5,000 students have attended the training since 2001.
A few years ago officers attending the training asked for material to meet their specific needs, so in 2010 we developed an additional version of the class formatted for law enforcement. The class focuses on statutes and additional material to help officers understand and correctly weigh trucks. Training includes field demonstrations to show the correct procedure to weigh a truck on portable scales and document results as evidence for a successful prosecution.
Recently, more and more local law enforcement officers have attended classes in response to requests from local road authorities who want regulations enforced on their roads.
Is customized training available?
Industries sometimes request customized training for their employees. Through Alexandria Tech, we’ve done this for scale operators in the aggregate industry, the agricultural industry, and the timber industry. Several county engineers have hosted classes for their area trucking industries. We’ve also offered classes to manufacturing companies so they can properly configure trucks to comply more easily with Minnesota laws. At times, manufacturers attend the class with their customers to learn how to properly configure their trucks to meet specific needs.
What other resources does the program provide?
Attendees are not left without resources when they complete the training. Truckers or companies can call us to verify the legality of truck configurations, for example, or ask about retrofitting axles or tires. There are also comprehensive resources on the web, such as class materials, sample truck-weight calculations, and a clickable, county-level state map for finding basic county-level truck weight information.
Sample class materials:
Comments about the class
The Truck Weight Compliance program has been a huge benefit for us here at GNP Company. We have sent managers, supervisors, and the scheduler for the trucks. We encourage everyone to get through the program at least once. The first time, you get your feet wet, and by the time you go back for the second class, you are more involved and can start asking questions to benefit the organization that you work for. It has enabled us to work with the trailer manufacturer to make sure our equipment has the axle spacing for the load we are hauling.
Ultimately, there is no one more knowledgeable about your organization’s process than yourself. To be able to attend a class that is proactive in making sure we have the knowledge to make good decisions, and have an instructor who is open to receiving e-mails to answer questions that are directly affecting us, is extremely beneficial.
—Gregg Pflipsen, Live Haul Manager, Golden Plump Poultry
We have had supervisors, equipment managers, sales managers, and truck scale operators attend the course, and all agree it is well presented and extremely informative. It has helped us design and adjust our trucks for ultimate payload as normal and during seasonal restrictions, thus preventing fines and equipment stress.
—Joe Foster, Knife River Trucking
We had Greg and his crew put on a class for all of our drivers. Our goal was to have our drivers be able to understand the weight configurations for our various truck & trailer combinations and to understand the legal weights allowed on posted roads during restrictions.
It was very easy to follow along with Greg’s program, with the PowerPoint presentation and the material that he handed out (workbooks with “hands-on” work sheets) along with his crew walking around the room to help out each attendant individually. They were very helpful and helped our crew work through the mathematical portions of the material.
All of our employees came away with an understanding of how to calculate weights to be legal, and we are happy to say that we have not had any overweight violations with our trucks since attending the class! We would recommend the class to all truck drivers and trucking company personnel.
—Camille Nisius and Sherri Tatro, Trucking Division, R.D. Offutt Company
The biggest reason to continue these classes is to educate the farmers/truck owners of what they can legally haul with their truck. It has helped our roads by reducing the number of extremely overweight trucks on them. I would like to see that the class become mandatory for those ticketed for more than one overweight truck in a year.
—Rich Sanders, Polk County Engineer and LTAP Steering Committee Member