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The Clock Is Ticking

With its roots in 19th century warfare, the phrase “deadline” has an interesting, somewhat literal, etymology. According to author Christine Ammer, the term “deadline” was coined at the hellish Andersonville, GA prison camp, and first appeared in writing in a report of Confederate Inspector-General, Colonel D.T. Chandler, on July 5, 1864. In the trucking industry, companies and owner-operators are chased by deadlines all year long.  The article this week will talk about those inevitable deadlines which haunt the trucking industry throughout the calendar year.

Deadline #1 / January 1st With a new year comes new responsibilities.  If it’s January 1st and you drive a flat weight plated tow truck in the State of Illinois, your registration just expired.  All of the weight allowances you spent your hard earned money on no longer have any meaning while operating upon a public highway.  This means that your tow truck is overweight on registration from pound one.  This applies not only to the average tow truck, but to the heavy lifters and rotators which have flat weight plates as well.

Deadline #2 / March 1st Do you have three or more axles on your power unit?  Are you registered for, or have, an actual weight exceeding 26,000 pounds while traveling in two or more states?  If you do, then you are required to have a motor fuel tax license and decals as you are subject to the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is an agreement among states and Canadian provinces to simplify the reporting of fuel use taxes by interstate motor carriers.  The letter of the law says you should have had your license paid for by the first of the year, but the not-so-business friendly State of Illinois gives you two whole months to display your decals as proof of purchase.  This means that if your decals are not properly displayed by March 1st at midnight, you are open to enforcement.

Deadline #3 / April 1st Are you one of the tens of thousands of truckers who travel interstate?  If you are, there are several requirements you must meet before you do.  Not only do you need to have your IFTA license, IFTA stickers and a medically certified CDL, you must have apportioned registration.  What is apportioned registration?

The International Registration Plan (IRP) is a registration reciprocity agreement between the contiguous United States and Canadian provinces, which provides apportioned payments of registration fees, based on the total distance operated in participating jurisdictions, to them. IRP’s fundamental principle is to promote and encourage the fullest possible use of the highway system.  While all states have different expiration dates for their apportioned plates, the Land of Lincoln renders them expired at midnight on April 1st.  In Illinois, when your apportioned registration plates expire they are purged from the Illinois Secretary of State’s database.  No apportioned registration means overweight from pound one.

Deadline #4 / July 1st In Illinois, this is perhaps the most infamous deadline in the trucking industry.  On July 1st at the stroke of midnight, all flat weight registration plates will expire.  With the exception of TA-trailer and B-truck plates, all flat weight trailer plates expire as well.  What does expired flat weight registration mean?  It means the vehicle and the load in its entirety is overweight on registration from pound one.  Most responsible trucking companies are well aware of this deadline and begin the registration renewal process well in advance.  Most police departments with truck enforcement programs will be hunting those vehicles which have expired.

These deadlines are like time. It’s like a predator, always stalking you.  You can try to outrun it with a 45-day temporary IRP card- or paperwork which says your registration is ‘applied for’, but in the end, time is the clock which keeps on ticking.

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