SPECIAL REPORT: Troopers lay down law on truckers

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - Truckers in Deep East Texas know by now they've been targeted by the Department of Public Safety.

"This operation is Texas Thunder," said DPS spokesman Greg Sanches. "We have right at 50 troopers that are spread out through about four or five counties. We need a lot of troopers to come in to hit it all at once to let not only the commercial vehicles, but also the motoring public, know that we are serious about making the roadways safe for everybody."

Once the red flashing lights are seen truckers think, "why couldn't it had been the next guy?"

Experienced troopers can pretty much eyeball an overweight truck.

Suspected violators are told to take the rig to the DPS office for a closer look.

A trooper with the right name, Robert Scales, for the weigh stands by.

"We have them go through the headlights, make sure all their headlights, turn signals work," Scales said. "Cab lights. Windshield wipers, washer system, horn."

The result isn't good for one truck.

"The truck weighed a total of 81,900 pounds," Scales said. "An overweight truck tears up the roadways."

"No, you can't haul anything hardly legal without some scales on the truck," driver Bermon Hendricks said.

There are some truck drivers who really don't like these kind of operations. It puts them behind schedule and to boot, it may lead to a hefty fine, with the option of doubling or tripling it if the driver has a second or third violation within a year.

Operation Texas Thunder is just one example of the stepped-up enforcement the trucking industry is learning to expect.

"It keeps us alert and I think it points out flaws in others," said Mark Cormier, the regional safety advisor for Stallion Oilfield Holdings.

When truckers follow the laws there are no problems.

The same goes for motorists who must share the roadways with the industrial traffic.

It's a two-way street with little room for error.

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.