SIOUX CITY -- Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew has blasted a broadened county proposal requiring large trucks to use a quieter braking mechanism at many busy highway spots, calling the measure "unenforceable."

The County Board of Supervisors last week held the first of three readings of the ordinance, and is scheduled to hold the second reading during its weekly meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, in the county courthouse.

In a social media post Thursday, Drew, who has been sheriff for six years, tweeted, "Oh please! Who is enforcing an unenforceable ordinance? What will determine writing the citation, because we hear a jake brake! I'm throwing the flag on that one! Least of our worries!"

Dave Drew 2018 head shot


Some county residents have complained about noisy braking by semi trucks passing through towns, so the proposed so-called “Jake brake” ordinance could potentially silence loud braking on some highways such as U.S. Highway 20.

The ordinance would make it unlawful for drivers to use a means of braking that "results in excessive, loud, unusual or explosive noise" from a vehicle.

Last week, the supervisors also held a public hearing on the issue, but no one asked to speak. 

As the supervisors discussed the topic, Supervisor Jeremy Taylor asked if enforcement would be difficult. Drew was not present at the meeting.

Signs would be posted in highway areas where the brakes could not be used.

"Maybe it is a deterrent, just having the awareness," Taylor said.

Compression brakes are used on large diesel-powered straight trucks and semis to slow the vehicle without activating air or hydraulic brakes.

County Engineer Mark Nahra said truck drivers like to use compression brakes when slowing down, because it "saves wear and tear on mechanical brakes, but does result in a large amount of noise generated by the truck, as the engine compression brakes are activated."

The measure being considered updates an existing 2006 ordinance on prohibiting the use of compression brakes, making it applicable in more places. Violations in the eight specified portions of the county, including areas near Sioux City, Moville and Lawton, would result in a $100 penalty.

Nahra said the individual towns of Moville and Sloan already have their own "Jake brake" ordinances, but the measure under consideration would give more uniformity in the county, with "all ordinances signed under one cover."

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