Good heavy haulers and specialized carriers know the score. They spend the time researching routes. They inquire and obtain the permits they need to make the move. They understand their vehicles are wide, tall, long or heavy. They understand the consequences the price they will pay if they get caught off a permitted route. In the end, even the best make mistakes. It is unfortunate when the time and planning that went into making a special move gets laid away because an emergency detour pops up. Last week, the article looked at detours from a legal weight and size perspective. This week, the article looks at the same detour from an oversize/overweight (OSOW) perspective.
To be clear, this article is not talking about “overloaded” vehicles that should have been legal. This article is talking about those loads which are inherently too big and too heavy to comply with legal size and weight statutes, and thereby require special permits and even special machinery to handle, some might even require a forklift rental in jamestown ny to get the load onto the bed of the truck to lift it and get it in place.
The legislature has said what maximum size and weights are for all highways in Illinois. To exceed those limitations with a special permit is in essence to break the law – lawfully. The ITEA encourages local authorities to offer OSOW permits at a reasonable price and issued in a timely manner. But at the end of the day, they do not have to. Either they can allow OSOW vehicles with a special permit, or they do not. There is no “go ahead and move on our streets OSOW without a permit, it’s fine”. That’s breaking the law. A police officer has no more authority to send an OSOW load down a highway without a special permit than he does to knowingly allow a drunk driver to continue on his way.
So as it pertains to detours for OSOW loads…
For the trucker – if you are operating under the authority of special permit and encounter an unplanned detour along your assigned route, follow every single suggestion made in the article last week for legal size and weight trucks. However, the last suggestion is by far the most important:
After following the detour, pull over A police officer who unwittingly diverts a trucker down a road the truck should not be operating upon cannot be immediately stopped and cited. That is textbook entrapment. An order given under the color of law is lawful. It might not be the best order ever given, but it must still be obeyed. Make the turn as instructed, and pull over to a safe place as soon as possible. Then make the necessary phone calls.
Police officers have the statutory authority to regulate traffic. It is not unreasonable for a police officer to direct an OSOW load off the assigned route in an emergency situation. It is unreasonable for a driver to assume he can endlessly continue on merry way in anticipation of happening upon the assigned route again. The police officer solved the emergency problem. Your authority to drive off-route has ended. Pull over to a safe spot and make the calls necessary to the police department and the permit authority for that highway. The potential civil liability and traffic violation is not worth the assumption you are okay to drive on.
For the truck enforcement officer – you are the one tasked by your agency to understand the severity of OSOW loads being sent off-route by police officers. When you hear the dispatch of a traffic crash happen on a busy road where permit loads are frequent, get over there and help. Have a plan and let your colleagues know what they should do if an OSOW shows up. If you spot a utility company or your public works department making unannounced repairs which will conflict with OSOW loads, hang out until they are done. Pick up the phone and call the permit authority for that highway and inform them of the obstruction.
Obviously a truck enforcement officer is not omnipresent. Truck officers should be taking the time to teach other officers simple things about trucks. The average police officer does not need all the specialized training, but a little knowledge about truck routing in emergency situations goes a long ways.
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