O'Brien County sheriff Allen Schuknecht

O’Brien County sheriff Allen Schuknecht speaks to the board of supervisors Tuesday, July 21, during its hearing on a proposed engine braking ordinance. Schuknecht said he was in favor of the ordinance but that it would not be used as a tool to issue more tickets to truck drivers.

PRIMGHAR—O’Brien County sheriff Allen Schuknecht told the board of supervisors Tuesday, July 21, truck drivers wouldn’t get a ticket for using their compression brakes in emergencies, even if a proposed braking ordinance passes.

“If we get a lot of complaints, we would try to enforce it the best we can,” Schuknecht said. “But we’re not going to go out there and see how many tickets we can write.”

The board discussed possible implications of the Jake brake ordinance during a hearing for the proposed rule, which would “prohibit the excessive, loud, unusual or explosive use of engine and compressed air-braking devices” within a one-mile radius of incorporated municipalities in the county.

Schuknecht thinks the ordinance would serve as a reminder to truck drivers not to use their engine brakes in certain areas near cities.

“I’m in favor of it. I think it’s enforceable and it’s something that could help,” Schuknecht said.

Board member Dennis Vanden Hull said several towns in the county — such as Hartley, Sutherland and Paullina — where braking noise complaints are common already have noise enforcement signs posted around their perimeters.

Vanden Hull reiterated a point he brought up during the board’s previous discussions about the ordinance: The ordinance would single out truck drivers.

“And these truckers are actually in compliance,” he said. “When you look at every muffler that is manufactured, the most common muffler on a truck that every shop around here puts on a truck is a 22920, which is about a $50-$59 muffler. That’s why guys buy them, they’re cheap and the noise level of them is under 80 decibels, which is regulation.”

He also said Iowa Code already mandates motor vehicles be equipped with mufflers that prevent excessive and unusual noises.

“That law is already on the books. Now we’re just putting another one on top of it,” Vanden Hull said.

Board member Dan Friedrichsen pointed out there are still a handful of truck drivers that alter their exhaust pipes so they create louder noises than the factory-issued ones. In that case, Friedrichsen said drivers should use them to slow down before entering noise-enforcement areas and not within those areas.

Vanden Hull said it is still a matter of safety for truck drivers to be able to use the Jake brakes when slowing down. He would prefer to have Jake brake signs posted in individual places in the county where complaints are common instead of passing a countywide ordinance.

Board member Nancy McDowell said the county would still have to pass individual resolutions to place new signs around the county.

“You could pass the ordinance and never put a sign up period,” she said.

Friedrichsen agreed with her point, saying the proposed ordinance wouldn’t prohibit use of Jake brakes in the entirety of the county.

Vanden Hull asked why the county couldn’t pursue a noise-reduction ordinance instead.

“If you get a noise-reduction ordinance, then to enforce we have to worry about decibels and all that kind of stuff,” Schuknecht said. “Now if you use your Jake brake, and you’re not in compliance, we can tell them that.”

He also said he doesn’t think it’s too much to ask truck drivers not to use Jake brakes when they’re passing through a small area.

The supervisors approved the first reading of the proposed ordinance and will hold a second reading for it at 9:05 a.m. Tuesday, July 28.