FROST LAWS AND SEASONAL PERMITS
Seasonal Weight Restrictions or “Frost Laws" help to preserve roads from the impact of heavy trucks on Van Buren County's roads during the cycle of freezing and thawing. By law, road agencies can enact restrictions on roads that are not designated as "All-Season Routes" when conditions merit. These seasonal restrictions lower the axle-loading limits by 35% and reduce the maximum travel speed to 35 MPH for vehicles over 10,000 pounds here in Van Buren County. All Van Buren County Roads, unless they are listed as “All-Season”, fall into the category of Restricted with weight and speed limits while Frost Laws are in force.
All-Season / Unrestricted Roadways
Some roads are exempt from Frost Laws because they have a deeper gravel base and a thicker layer of asphalt to support heavier loads when the ground is soft. The VBCRC considers these as “All-Season” or Unrestricted Roads. Normal Maximum Load Limits are allowed during Seasonal Weight Restrictions/Frost Laws on these road systems. No vehicles that exceed these normal load limits are allowed and no overweight/oversize permits will be granted.
Overweight citations may be issued, and fines can be quite substantial, with some of them as much as 20 cents a pound for each overweight axle. None of the revenue derived from fines is given to the Road Commission. A small percentage goes to court costs, and the rest goes to county libraries. Special attention is often given to trucks with drop axles (tag axles) to ensure that the axles are in the lowered position. Any truck found with its axle in the raised position on a restricted road will be stopped and weighed.
To receive a notice on weight and speed restrictions, the Van Buren County Road Commission operates an email notification service or posts the Seasonal Weight Restriction status on our website, www.VBCRC.org, just prior to the start of the season. To be placed on either one of these notification services or for more information, you may call 269-674-8011 ext. 252, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Seasonal Weight Restriction/Frost Laws typically start late-February to early-March and end when the ground and road system is fully thawed and safe for heavy vehicles traffic.
Michigan Weight and Axle Load Limits
Understanding the axle and weight load limits can be very confusing. For a better explanation of Michigan weight and axle load limits and how to calculate your axle loads, please refer to Michigan Center for Truck Safety at www.truckingsafety.org and utilize the most current edition of the Truck Drivers Guidebook:
https://www.truckingsafety.org/Portals/0/GuideBooks/TDBG19thEd.pdf. You are responsible for familiarity with complete weight laws found in the Michigan Vehicle Code, Section 257.722.
Agricultural, Public Utility, and Milk Hauler Exemption Information
There are Seasonal Permits available for Public Utilities ($100 per truck) and for Agriculture Commodities ($50 per truck). These are to allow these types of vehicles on our road systems during Seasonal Weight Restrictions/Frost Laws for weights above the 35% reduction but not to exceed the Normal Load Limits. Permits can be obtained through the online Oxcart Permitting System at www.oxcartpermits.com or a fillable Application from the VBCRC. Note that online Oxcart will take credit card transactions. The VBCRC will only take check or money order at this time and permits fees must be paid in full prior to approval. Applications, valid certificate of insurance, and permit fees can be submitted by the following:
Oxcart – www.oxcartpermits.com
Mailed to P.O. Box 156, Lawrence, MI 49064
Dropped off at 325 West James Street, Lawrence, MI 49064
There are some limited classes that are exempt from Frost Laws after an appropriate permit is obtained, together with proof of proper insurance coverage and payment of appropriate permit fees.