Commercial trucks are a common sight on our nation’s roads. They make up 12.8 percent of all registered vehicles and transport billions of dollars worth of goods across the country. In 2016, there were a total of 3.68 million heavy-duty trucks in operation.
With that many trucks on the road, motorists should trust that the truck drivers are properly trained and that their vehicles meet safety standards. However, the reality may be surprising.
Over the course of three days, The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) inspected 7,980 commercial motor vehicles as part of Roadcheck 2018. From June 5-7, civilian inspectors, compliance review investigators, local partner agencies, and specially trained police officers inspected each vehicle and its driver.
Roadcheck Initiative Had Sobering Results
The effort resulted in nearly a quarter of the trucks being taken off the road for safety violations - just under 2,000 trucks in total. Faulty brakes and worn tires were common violations requiring repair before the trucks could return to the road. While officers require a justifiable reason to pull drivers over, Texas law allows commercial vehicles to be pulled over anytime for a spot check to ensure that the drivers and trucking companies are complying with safety laws.
The percentage of trucks that failed the inspections is alarming. The rate is the highest it's been in recent years. In 2017, 23.5 percent of trucks failed inspection and in 2016, 22.5 percent of trucks failed.
In some cases, the drivers themselves failed to meet safety standards. In this year’s inspection, 301 drivers were “placed out of service.” In 2017, 225 drivers failed the inspection, which was nearly the same as 2016’s 224 drivers. These drivers were cited for violations such as lack of a proper license, or driving a vehicle beyond the allowed number of consecutive hours.
In total, there were 1,258 citations and 18,178 warnings issued during Roadcheck 2018. In 2017, those numbers were 1,994 citations and 22,346 warnings. In 2016, there were 1,972 citations and more than 20,446 warnings.
The annual spot check is an important tool the state uses to make sure our roads are safe. However, these checks reveal the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to reverse the upward trend in the total number of unsafe commercial vehicles that are in operation. Commercial truck drivers must meet strict safety requirements in order to operate large vehicles on Texas roads. When their negligence causes accidents, the results can be devastating.