KENNETT SQUARE—Kennett Square officials are cracking down on overweight and otherwise unsafe tractor-trailers traveling through the borough.

The borough’s police force now has an officer certified to use portable scales, and Police Chief Bill Holdsworth said safety inspections will be held two weeks every month.

“We want everyone to know we are targeting any kind of dangerous motor vehicle coming through town,” Holdsworth said. “We are aggressively pursuing this.”

Besides parking, complaints involving tractor-trailers are one of the top issues borough councilors hear from residents. And for good reason. According to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 3,864 fatal accidents involving tractor trailers nationwide in 2015.

Kennett Square has an inter-municipal agreement with Kennett Township, in which both municipalities share the costly portable scales.

Last week, Kennett Square’s new officer certified in weights and measures, Mark Todd, set up a safety inspection on Old Baltimore near Mill Road, on the edge of the borough. Todd does not need probable cause to pull over tractor-trailers. He found safety violations on the first truck he pulled over. The trucking company sent out a mechanic, because the rig was not permitted to leave until the repair work was done.

“There is a huge amount of volume of trucks that come through town, and many of them have multiple safety issues,” Todd said. “We really want it to be known that we are enforcing this.”

Fines for overweight trucks are steep and can quickly generate revenue for municipalities. Recently, a West Virginia trucker traveling in a nearby county was fined nearly $20,000 for the load on his truck being over by 63,000 pounds. And a Florida truck driver was jailed for four days in Pennsylvania for not being able to pay a portion of the $17,000 fine he got for driving an overweight rig.

Overweight fines are steep because of how the state assesses fines for violations. For the first 3,000 pounds over the allowed weight limit, there is a $150 fine, and the fine increases to $150 for each 500 pounds, or partial 500 pounds, after that.

Kennett Square Matt Fetick, who oversees the police department, has long fought to get unsafe rigs off Kennett Square’s roads.

“We’re not trying to be punitive,” Fetick said. “We are trying to get illegal trucks that damage our roadways off the road. Overweight trucks ruin our infrastructure, and some drivers are driving excess hours. The point is that overweight trucks ruin our bridges, and this is all about making the borough safe.”

Early in the morning, and into the afternoon every weekday, trucks from the borough’s mushroom and cold storage industries can be seen navigating borough roads.

“There is a fine balance supporting local commerce that powers our economy,” Fetick said. “We need trucks. I am not interested in creating problems for our local businesses. Mushroom farms need truck transportation. This is about getting unsafe and overweight trucks off our roads.”

Fetick said he is continuing to work with state and county officials and PennDOT to bring improvements to the Old Baltimore Pike and Newark Road intersection. Fetick said when that intersection gets improved, it will divert much of the truck traffic out of Kennett Square.

Because of the steep and winding grade on Newark Road as it approaches Old Baltimore Pike, it is impossible for tractor-trailers to travel through the intersection.

Fetick said residents could see major improvements on initiatives on reducing truck traffics in the next 12 to 18 months.

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