DPS study finds 25 percent of big rigs have safety violations

During a recent three-day period, 25 percent of the trucks randomly inspected had safety violations that were serious enough to be parked until repairs could be made.

The sample was taken by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers June 8-10. Troopers inspected 6,906 commercial vehicles. Of those inspected, 1,738 were placed out of service because they were found to have serious enough safety violations to be removed from service until repairs could be made.

“Big trucks like 18-wheelers can be dangerous, even under the best of conditions,” said Craig Brown, an attorney with Cappolino Dodd Krebs LLP in Cameron. Brown has legal experience dealing with the implications arising from wrecks involving big rigs in Texas. “When a passenger car gets tangled up with a big rig, the people in the car usually lose.”

Vehicle out-of-service violations included 900 for poorly adjusted brakes, 702 for brake system problems, 283 for tire or wheel issues and 322 with light malfunctions. Overall, 27,143 violations were documented as a result of the 6,906 inspections conducted.

“It’s frightening to learn that so many 18-wheelers on Texas highways — 1 in 4 — have safety concerns,” Brown said. “In my experience, nine times out of 10, you find that the company was usually more concerned about money than the safety of you and me.”

Troopers placed 160 of the drivers (2.3 percent) out of service for violations ranging from not properly tracking their hours of service to suspended, expired or cancelled driver licenses. Four drivers were placed out of service for drug or alcohol violations. Troopers issued five tickets for seat belt violations.

DPS Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers, along with Highway Patrol troopers and other inspectors who have received specialized training in commercial vehicle inspection, stopped commercial vehicles to inspect safety equipment and check driver licenses, endorsements and log books. Troopers also looked for possible drug or alcohol use.

According to the the latest statistics from the United States Department of Transportation, U.S. highways see more than 400,000 wrecks each year that involve an 18-wheeler, and more than 4,000 people are killed in these wrecks. While truck drivers were not always at fault in these accidents, the results from a wreck involving a big rig are often magnified.

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2010-10-07 digital edition

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