Landgraf seeks to reduce overpass strikes & save taxpayers' money

AUSTIN — State Representative Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed legislation aimed at reducing the number of overpass strikes due to over-height semi-trucks by holding those drivers or their employers liable for the costly damage.

House Bill 799, authored by Landgraf, seeks to hold the owner of the vehicle strictly liable for any damage to a bridge or overpass caused by the height of the vehicle. The driver of the over-height vehicle could also be charged with a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine not to exceed the cost of the damages.

"Like so many West Texans, I'm frustrated with how frequently overpasses in the Permian Basin are being struck by oversized loads," Landgraf said. "These bridge strikes compromise highway safety, cause traffic congestion and cost taxpayers up to millions of dollars in repairs."

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2018, there were at least 82 overpass strikes across the state. Meanwhile, over the five previous years from 2013 and 2017,  there averaged just 31 overpass strikes a year. The cost of repairs for the 2018 damages alone exceeds more than $20 million, but less than $3.6 million of that has been collected from the drivers and companies responsible.

"I'm determined to reduce the number of these collisions and hold the vehicle owners strictly liable for the cost of the repairs so that taxpayers aren't stuck footing the bill," Landgraf added.

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27, 2019.