How safe are trucks on the interstates? Not safe enough, according to the results of a three-day spot inspection by the Virginia State Police.
Of 377 trucks and drivers pulled over at the Dumfries weigh station on I-95 during the last three days of September, 258 -- or 68 percent -- were sidelined for violations ranging from faulty brakes to driving with suspended licenses, according to Sgt. D.P. Feather.
"It's amazing what you see when you start looking," Feather said. "I've seen them turn their headlights on by sticking two wires together."
The inspections were carried out by the Motor Carrier Safety Division of the Virginia State Police as part of an intensified federal and state effort to rid the highways of unsafe trucks and drivers. Last year, the Maryland State Police inaugurated a six-person bus-and-truck patrol, called the BAT patrol, which operates out of the College Park barracks.
According to Feather, the roadside inspection uncovered 278 brake violations, 176 of which were serious enough to take the trucks out of service. In addition, troopers found that 136 drivers had driven more consecutive hours than the law allows, and that 26 had suspended or revoked licenses.
Feather said some of the drivers whose trucks had mechanical problems were grateful to be taken off the road. "A lot of them come in and ask us to check them," he said. "They know the truck is not safe but the company won't take it out of service. We see that all the time."