The Katy Police Department will now have the authority to enforce commercial motor vehicle laws inside the city limits. Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 636 into effect on May 21 which gives the police department the ability to inspect large commercial vehicles.
City Councilman Chris Harris and Police Chief Noe Diaz both testified twice before the legislature to request the bill be passed. “This important safety legislation will mean improved enforcement of unsafe heavy commercial vehicles that traverse through the city,” said Harris. “The city council asked for the bill to allow specifically trained local Katy Police officers to have the same commercial traffic enforcement authority as DPS.”
Harris noted that the bill was a bipartisan legislative effort authored by State Rep. Gina Calanni and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst.
Prior to the passage of the bill, Katy Police Department could not pull over commercial vehicles for safety inspections. Diaz explained, “It's not a revenue driven event. It's more of a safety issue for us.”
Large commercial vehicles that are above weight regulations are responsible for expensive damages to local roads. As commerce continues to thrive and more large corporations and distribution centers move to Katy, it’s important that commercial vehicles be monitored for weight regulations.
“There's large trucks and 18-wheelers from businesses all up and down (Highway) 90, and they tear up our roads because no one's policing the weights of these vehicles,” Diaz said.
The bill will enable police to check for proper licensing and regular health checks for the drivers. The bill also allows police to inspect the vehicle for safety adherence.
Diaz noted that the fatal automobile accident that occured on May 11 was the result of an 18-wheeler with an unsecured trailer hitch. In addition to the loss of life, the accident caused nearly $300,000 in hazardous material clean-up costs.
With the passage of SB 636, Diaz hopes to reduce the number of accidents caused by nonadherence to safety regulations.
Diaz said that the Katy Police Department has already selected an officer who will be responsible for enforcing the vehicle regulations. The training process is lengthy, but Diaz expects the officer to be autonomous by October.
Until Katy is able to purchase its own weigh station, the city will be borrowing one from Fort Bend County DPS.