Do you know the Frost Laws along your route?

Commuter vehicle drivers often consider speed when they think about big rigs and road safety, but they don’t always think about weight. Combined with load balancing, weight restrictions are almost always on the minds of commercial drivers as these factors can play a huge part in making safe decisions while on the road. Adhering to weight restrictions is also on the minds of commercial truckers since violating these restrictions can lead to road damage, truck damage and hefty fines and fees.

Restrictions on weight play an even bigger part in safe driving during the winter months when many areas impose so-called “Frost Laws”. Often running from January through April, Frost Laws impose specific weight restrictions on vehicles traveling through cold-weather areas where roads may be constructed using older technologies. These roadways may be more prone to damage in the cold weather after high use by heavy equipment, hence the Frost Laws.

The big problem with Frost Laws isn’t necessarily the restrictions themselves as drivers can simply plan ahead to prepare or find another route altogether. Instead, drivers may not be aware of Frost Laws or changes in Frost Law restrictions across a particular highway because the restrictions are not always available when planning a GPS route. In fact, even if a GPS route includes seasonal restrictions on weight, these restrictions may be subject to change during specific dates or during specific weather events.

To make matters more complicated, local government and law enforcement may not be aware of changing Frost Law restrictions either, making it difficult to get straight answers before heading out the door. This can cause a real headache for drivers who are cited for violating Frost Law restrictions since the matter can be murky in court.

Until road construction and reconstruction is able to address the potential problems associated with weight and cold weather, drivers and logistics professionals today are encouraged to engage in as much due diligence as possible before a load is sent out. Additionally, be prepared when driving in areas prone to very cold weather with multiple alternate routes planned to reduce delays caused by changes in scheduled route. This may mean adjusting delivery times to make up for possible delays related to winter weather driving restrictions, and it also means that GPS should only be one planning tool in your arsenal.