Last month, Motor Carrier Enforcement Officers (MCEOs) based out of southern Oregon participated in a multi-day coastal enforcement operation. The MCEOs managed a set of portable scales at the ODOT maintenance yard in Port Orford while coastal weigh stations — Bandon, Hauser, Coaledo, Myrtle Point, Brookings and Rainbow Rock — were manned in Curry, Coos and Douglas counties.
MCEOs handle fiscal and safety requirements for the trucking industry. This work includes ensuring weight mile tax compliance, licensing and registration, as well as ensuring trucks are not exceeding load and height and width restrictions.
MCEOs are also certified safety inspectors. They look for 12 critical items, including hours of service, properly inflated tires, working lights, cargo security, and wheels and frames that are in good condition with no cracks.
According to Ashland-Roseburg District Manager Leslie Elbon, the multi-agency operation conducted in May required teamwork and collaboration to keep things running smoothly.
“Planning for these operations begins several months in advance,” Elbon said. “We coordinate with other agencies and pool our resources together, so that we maintain coverage at the Ashland Port of Entry and along the Interstate 5 corridor, which is the heart of our district.”
According to Elbon, weighing a truck with portable scales is a bit trickier than operations at a fixed weigh station. In a standard weigh station, a MCEO enters data into a computer as the trucker slowly drives over the scale. If the load is legal, a green light indicates the truck can start rolling down the highway.
The coastal enforcement operation uses mobile office vans equipped with portable scales. In Port Orford, MCEOs detour trucks off U.S. 101 and into ODOT’s maintenance yard. Officers direct trucks onto the scales by hand while maintaining radio contact with the officer in the van. The load over each axle is weighed individually as the truck receives a visual safety inspection from another MCEO. Once the truck is cleared, the driver is directed to return to U.S. 101.
ODOT Motor Carrier coordinated with the Port Orford Police Department and Oregon State Police to set up the short-term work zone. The team weighed 1,867 trucks during the operation, issuing 36 warnings and 33 citations, which were directed to the Port Orford Municipal Court.
Senior officer Susan Chase said truckers are often appreciative when a safety hazard is detected — a violation that warrants stopping a truck — because they want to return home safely as well.
“The trucking industry cares,” Chase said. “If they missed something in transit, they want to correct it because this is their community. Their family and friends travel on the same highways.”
MCEOs support an economically viable environment on Oregon’s highways by reducing delays for the trucking industry. This is accomplished in part due to Oregon’s Green Light mainline truck preclearance system as well as Motor Carrier’s Trucking Online service that gives customers the ability to obtain credentials.
In just the first quarter of 2013, ODOT Motor Carrier weighed more than half a million trucks on static scales and precleared more than 380,000 trucks using Green Light weigh stations.