- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

NESBIT, Miss. (AP) - Maj. Dennis Hopper had an apt description of the gadget that sat along the road at the MDOT weigh station on Interstate 55 in DeSoto County.

“It is like something out of James Bond,” Hopper said about the infrared camera that scans a truck’s heat signature to see if its braking system is working properly. “It is part of our smart roadside system because we do more at our stations than just weigh the trucks.”

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Transportation opened up their Nesbit station this week for a media tour.

“This is a very important event,” said Mike Tagert, North Mississippi Transportation Commissioner. “The focus of this event is to shed some light publicly on the important work our enforcement agency does.”

Tagert said MDOT has 212 law enforcement officers and 35 civilian employees statewide who make sure the commercial trucks are operating safely on the highways.

“Our men and women in our law enforcement division make sure that we regulate commercial movement in a way that first and foremost provides for public safety and also encourages the responsible movement of commerce in our state and region,” Tagert said.

As trucks pull in to the weigh stations, officials demonstrated how a computer system called smart roadside, or intelligent imaging system, can read a truck’s license plate and transportation number to make sure they are allowed to be traveling on the road and are not in violation of any state and federal laws.

MDOT has the computer system at 10 weigh stations throughout the state. The station in DeSoto County will get the system soon.

The trucks that are stopped are then weighed to make sure they meet requirements and are not carrying overweight loads that will damage the roads.

In DeSoto County, there are four weigh stations - two on Interstate 55 in Nesbit and two on U.S. 78 in Olive Branch. Statewide, there are 28 permanent weigh stations and 73 portable units.

Last year, 5.9 million trucks were weighed statewide and $2.4 million was collected in overweight penalty fees.

Vehicle safety inspections were performed on 38,000 trucks and 4,000 were put out of service because of safety violations. Officers also made 15 arrests and seized 37 pounds of drugs.

During the tour, officials answered questions about why some weigh stations are closed when motorists pass by them on the highway.

“We can be doing upgrades, but usually it is training because our officers go through extensive training,” Cpt. Thomas Dollar said.

MDOT officers, like other law enforcement in the state, go to the police academy. They then go through several certification classes, including everything from learning how to inspect cargo trucks to learning about trucks carrying hazardous material.


Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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