Inspectors with the Oregon Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Transportation Division are seeing small improvements in commercial vehicle driver inspections.

During a multi-day inspection operation last month on Interstate 5 at the Woodburn Port of Entry, 606 inspections were completed and 21 percent of drivers were placed out of service for safety violations. This is down from 29 percent in January last year. The average driver out of service rate in Oregon in 2010 was 26 percent. The national driver out of service rate is about 6 percent.

This inspection initiative is part of an ongoing MCTD effort to reduce truck-at-fault crashes on Oregon highways through increased inspections and educational outreach. The focus of these inspections was on commercial drivers. MCTD inspectors checked drivers' logbooks and qualifications to make sure they were complying with federal and state regulations, specifically, hours of service regulations.

"While it's good to see more and more drivers with accurate logbooks and in compliance with federal safety standards, we still see too many who are exceeding hours of service or who have inaccurate logbooks," said Howard Russell, Motor Carrier Safety Compliance Field manager.

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.

Preliminary data for the first six months of 2010 data shows crashes involving commercial vehicles are down about 10 percent over 2009.