The trucks that rumble up and down Route 301 through Charles County each day met with the Maryland State Police in early June as troopers began a special enforcement program intended to cut down on safety violations.
The two-day roadside inspection program in Waldorf and White Plains found 512 violations of equipment and driver regulations, officials said. Of the more than 350 trucks inspected, 57 were put out of service because of violations, and the state police issued 290 citations and 222 warnings. Nearly 30 of the 230 vehicles weighed were found to be overweight, and 16 of the trucks inspected were hauling hazardous materials improperly, officials said.
"This is our attempt to have omnipresence out there," said Maj. Greg Shipley of the state police. "The focused enforcement was the result of numerous complaints [troopers] received about commercial trucks in Southern Maryland."
The enforcement initiative as part of Roadcheck 2004, a program coordinated by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance that involves law enforcement agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico, officials said. The local work involved the Charles County Sheriff's Office, the State Highway Administration and the Maryland comptroller's office, among other agencies.
Violations included improper licensing; faulty brakes, tires and lights; and tired drivers, officials said. A total of $43,000 in fines was issued as a result of the violations, Shipley said.
"It could be as simple as you didn't have enough placards on your vehicle denoting that your were carrying hazardous materials," he said, adding that the problems with Southern Maryland commercial vehicles warranted another spot check. "This is quite possible again, based on the success of this operation."
Over the last several years, Route 301 has become an increasingly popular alternative for north-south truck traffic to the often-congested Interstate 95 corridor in the Washington region.