THOMASVILLE — Berry Earle is not against truckers, but he spoke out Tuesday about a truck sound he compared to opening the gates of hell.

That is how Earle described the sound of engine brakes used by trucks on the north bypass behind his Lawrence Drive residence.

A small minority of truckers use the brakes, Earle told Thomas County commissioners, and those who do are getting a thrill through juvenile antics. There is no valid reason for using the brakes in flatlands of South Georgia, he added.

It is government’s job to address the situation, Earle, a Thomas-ville lawyer, told commissioners.

“Democracy is about a balance of interests,” he added. Word would spread quickly among truckers if commissioners took measures to stop the obnoxious noise, Earle said.

Commissioners asked Earle to find other communities with a truck-brake ordinance and return to them with results of his research.

Mike Woodham told commissioners the brakes, known as jake brakes, make so much noise on U.S. 84 East near his home that he has considered moving.

Just as signs do not stop speeders, they will not stop use of the brakes, but signs would be a deterrent, said Woodham, Thomasville Regional Airport manager.

“I have talked to many people,” Woodham told the board. “It’s a major concern.”

A Georgia Department of Public Safety official told commissioners there is no reason for the brakes to be used here.

“They’re doing it to listen to the pipes, to see just how loud it sounds,” George Carnage, the official, said.

Local legislators call Carnage’s Atlanta office and report constituents’ complaints about the brakes on Metcalf Road.

“There’s really no ordinance we can stand on to enforce it,” Carnage said.

He told commissioners that if a truck using jake brakes passed outside the commission meeting room, the sound would rattle courthouse windows.

Signs would work and give Carnage, local police and sheriff’s officers authority to stop drivers using the brakes unnecessarily.

A Thomasville ordinance made truck traffic almost disappear in the city, Carnage reminded officials.

Doug West, a trucker, agreed jake brakes are not needed on local terrain. “But I want to have that option,” West added.

Commissioner Elaine Mays expressed concern about enforcement of a local ordinance.

Mays said she has asked Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell to issue citations on certain offenses, but he said that unless he or his deputies witness the offense, the ruling cannot be enforced. Littering and pilfering in county trash receptacles were among the offenses the commissioner named.

“The sheriff’s deputy says they have to see them to do it, well, it would get a deputy’s attention,” Earle interjected.

The sheriff is out of the city and could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Earle said outside the Tuesday meeting he was pleased with commissioners’ response to his concerns. His research will begin immediately.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 220.

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