New Jersey bill pushes for more truck inspections

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In the wake of this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear New Jersey officials’ arguments about why large interstate trucks should be banned from using local roads and secondary highways, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Princeton Borough, has urged the Assembly Transportation Committee to hear a new bill he has authored.

Gusciora’s bill, introduced Tuesday, Oct. 3, would allow sheriff’s officers to inspect interstate trucks to make sure they are in compliance with state regulations regarding size and weight. Currently, Gusciora says, only state troopers are authorized to enforce trucking regulations.

“This bill would aim to reduce the number of overweight and oversized trucks by increasing the number of officers with the authority to enforce vehicle size and weight restrictions,” Gusciora says. “On the heels of this decision made by the Supreme Court yesterday, we must act fast in turning to alternative measures to ensure that our roadways are safe. One way to do this is through greater control of tractor-trailer activity to make certain the drivers are following the rules and regulations that have already been imposed upon them.”

In 1999, the state Legislature created a law banning certain large trucks from using state roads unless they were making a local delivery, but that ban ended last year after a federal appeals court found it discriminated against interstate commerce. A federal judge in Newark had come to the same conclusion in 2004, but the ban remained in place while New Jersey appealed. On Monday, Oct. 2, the nation’s highest court refused to hear the state’s argument that the ban should be allowed.

“Safety is the number-one goal here,” Gusciora says. “When oversized trucks go rumbling down roads like Route 29 and Route 31, it creates a dangerous situation for everyone else on the roadway. If tractor-trailers must use our roadways, then they will have to follow our rules.”