By Alton Porter
Drivers of large vehicles -- such as 18-wheeler trucks and trailers -- may no longer use their noisy engine brakes within Crockett city limits, except in emergency situations.
The Crockett City Council adopted an ordinance at a regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, prohibiting most uses of engine brakes, also commonly known as jake brakes, in the city.
A motion to approve the ordinance, adding it to the city's motor vehicles and traffic code, was offered by Precinct 5 Councilmember Mike Marsh and seconded by Precinct 3 Councilmember Ernest Jackson. It passed on a unanimous vote of the four councilmembers present at the meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Muriel Williams, who is councilmember for Precinct 4, was absent.
According to the ordinance, an engine brake is "an auxiliary or compression engine brake which produces any noise in addition to the normal operating engine noise."
It is a braking mechanism installed on some diesel engines. When activated, it opens exhaust valves in the cylinders after the compression cycle, releasing the compressed air trapped in the cylinders, and slowing the vehicle. It makes a loud noise.
Although passage of vehicles equipped with these brakes through the City of Crockett is not prohibited, use of the brakes in the city is. And a person who violates the ordinance "shall be subject to a penalty of up to Five Hundred Dollars ($500) for each offense," it states.
The ordinance's prohibition against the use of engine brakes does not apply to "vehicles operated by the police department, fire department or any emergency ambulance vehicle," according to the ordinance, and use of these brakes in other vehicles in emergency situations "where there is imminent danger of collision with property, persons or animals" also is excepted.
In introducing the matter to the councilmembers for discussion and action, Mayor Robert Meadows said, "I asked our deputy city administrator (John Angerstein) and our interim city administrator (Mitzi Thompson) to look into this for us. I don't know if any of you all have had calls about this, but it apparently is more of a problem to the west of town, with trucks coming in off (SH) 21 and (SH) 7.
"Although I've had talks with folks at the top of the hill going out of town to the north, I haven't heard from anyone south. I don't know if that's as much of an issue because they have a longer straightaway that (allows them to) slow down. But, I've had a few comments from people out east of town about how trucker (drivers) are using the jake brake. They're not really considering what time of the night (they're passing through)."
Meadows added, "After consulting with our attorney (William Pemberton), it's not an issue for us to offer this for our citizens. And by penalty, prohibit truckers from doing that. In my opinion, it's in the best interest of our citizens who live in those areas to put a stop to it."
Police Chief David Cross said, police department personnel have received complaints about truckers using engine brakes in the city -- "here in town, as well."
In other business, councilmembers unanimously voted to accept a $5,995 bid from Lucas Roofing & Sheet Metal and award a contract to Lucas Roofing to replace the shingle roof on the Crockett Police Station building. Lucas Roofing was the only business to submit a bid for the job.