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New truck hits roads to make them safer

Thanks to a partnership with the Hamilton County Engineer, the Sheriff's office has a new tool for cracking down on overweight loads on county roads. A Ford F-350 has been converted and customized to carry specialized equipment for inspecting Commercial Vehicles.

Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover says safety is the real issue. "These overweight vehicles, it takes a lot longer for one to stop," says Schoonover, "If that causes an accident, the effects can be devastating because of such a heavy load. We're looking at saving lives by enforcing the safety rules of these vehicles on the highway."

Over-loaded trucks can also cause roads to wear-out more quickly. Engineer Ted Hubbard says, "one pass of a tractor-trailer is worth about 10,000 passes of a car."

Hubbard adds budget cuts and inflation are eating away at the budget so preserving the system is important. "We have to make sure that the vehicles that use our roadways are not overweight."

The Sheriff's department says it is now just the 27th county in the state to have a full-time Weights and Inspections unit. Right now, that unit consists of one deputy. Corporal Pete Prybal says the truck makes traffic stops more efficient since there's no waiting around for someone to bring scales and other other devices, they're already in his truck.

Prybal has had the truck for about a week and a half. "We've weighed 17 trucks. The gross vehicle weight rating over was about 150,000 pounds. We've had 22 equipment violations and 26 warnings."

How does that compare to before he had the truck? "It's a lot more," says Prybal. "We never had a full-time unit before so we'd have to rely on someone to get the scales to us on the scene where we got the violator at, and sometimes the scales were not available."

The unit is being jointly funded by the Sheriff and Engineer's offices.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.