Philadelphia and West Virginia are doing their best to help meet Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater's goal of cutting truck fatalities by 50% through increased inspection efforts.
In Philadelphia Friday, police and state inspectors inspected 25 tractor-trailers and dump trucks on I-95 near the Philadelphia International Airport. They put nine of them out of service, and gave citations to most of the others.
Pennsylvania DOT inspectors used laptop computers that let them instantly check the federal safety record of a particular trucking company, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. One inspector said that the information helps him decide whether or not to give a trucker a break. A truck found with bad brakes didn't get a break when the inspector found the company had a history of brake violations.
The truck traffic on the highway became thin as truckers got word of the inspections.
A new inspection program started in West Virginia last month stopped 182 trucks in Wayne and Mingo counties during five days in June, putting 90 out of service. But the Public Service Commission notes that the high percentage of out-of-service orders could reflect stepped-up inspections and the fact that more trucks are on the road than in previous years.
The recent inspections are part of a $140,000 program called Operation Safety First. The program is targeting two stretches of I-64 and the 26 miles of I-81 in the eastern panhandle for inspections, because these highways are the worst in the state for truck crashes.
In general, the number of out-of-service orders and citations in truck inspections like these is artificially inflated, because officials tend to pick the most suspicious-looking vehicles to inspect, rather than wasting time inspecting clean, well-maintained vehicles that are unlikely to have a problem.