Oregon's Department of Transportation says its commercial vehicle enforcement and education efforts appear to be paying off with a drop in truck crashes.

For the last several years, ODOT's Motor Carrier Division has aggressively targeted unsafe commercial drivers and vehicles with enhanced enforcement and education initiatives. One of the biggest efforts has been special safety inspection operations along the state's busiest highways. During these operations, MCTD employees work together around the clock for three to five days, inspecting hundreds of trucks a day.

"Although employees perform this type of work every day, intensive inspection operations help reinforce the message that safety is our number one priority and help keep Oregonians safe," said Howard Russell, Motor Carrier Safety Compliance Field manager.

DOT officials say 2009 data shows crashes involving commercial vehicles are down 28 percent over 2008. Truck-at-fault crashes are down 26 percent. Truck crashes resulted in 32 percent fewer injuries and 15 percent fewer deaths in 2009.

During a multi-day event in central and eastern Oregon, almost 630 safety inspections were completed. These inspections focused on commercial drivers and included checking drivers' logbooks and qualifications to make sure they were complying with federal and state regulations, specifically, hours of service regulations.

During the inspection operation, 27 percent of drivers were placed out of service. That rate is consistent with inspection events at other locations in Oregon over the last few years. The national driver out of service rate is about 6 percent.

Commercial vehicle safety inspections are not random. Using several sorting tools, including weigh station records, safety records, and information in national databases, employees scrutinize the vehicle and driver. Driver behavior is carefully observed as the vehicle proceeds through the weigh station. Drivers who look inattentive or fatigued are routinely selected for an inspection. During the inspection, the driver is interviewed and supporting documentation is reviewed to verify the driver's logbook.

In the last six months, ODOT has conducted five of these special operations, completing more than 2,000 inspections and placing almost a third of drivers out of service for logbook, hours of service or other violations.

"Although the majority of trucks and drivers operating on Oregon's highways are safe and professional, these inspections are important in helping identify those that are not and vital in helping keep Oregonians safe," said Russell.