During Roadcheck 2007, a three-day safety initiative from June 5-7, the Texas Department of Public Safety inspected commercial vehicles across the state - with almost one in four (27 percent) found to have serious enough problems for troopers to take them off of the streets and highways.

During the three-day campaign, 6,051 commercial vehicles were inspected, and 1,659 of the vehicles and 259 of the drivers were taken out of service. Last year, 1,461 vehicles and 218 drivers were removed from the roads.

Sgt. David Johnson serves with the DPS’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and leads eight troopers in overseeing enforcement in an eight-county region that includes Ellis and Johnson counties.

During Roadcheck, enforcement in Johnson’s area was concentrated near Godley in Johnson County, where a number of complaints had been received from the public about commercial vehicles.

“We were getting a lot of complaints there,” Johnson said of the area, which is near gas fields.

Compared to the state average of 27 percent of commercial vehicles pulled from service, Johnson’s area saw a much higher percentage - almost 42 percent.

“The percentage was very high compared to the state,” Johnson said, saying he was surprised by the number.

To help keep the area under control, Johnson anticipates running mini-task forces through the area on a monthly basis, along with the troopers regularly assigned there.

During Roadcheck, staffing was increased across the state, and in Johnson’s jurisdiction, 26 troopers, including ones from the department’s Highway Patrol, were involved.

Johnson’s area saw the inspection of 116 vehicles, with 48 taken out of service for inspection violations. One driver was taken out of service due to exceeding the number of hours he could drive.

The majority of inspection violations that took vehicles off the road related to brakes and brake systems. Vehicles also were pulled for violations involving tires and wheels, lights, safe loading and hazardous materials.

Safety belt violations were noted in 11 of the vehicles inspected.

Three levels of inspection were conducted, Johnson said, noting a level one inspection includes checking the vehicle from “stem to stern.” A level two inspection is a general walk-around, with a level three inspection involving only an interview with the driver.

During Roadcheck, Johnson’s site conducted 110 level one inspections, five level two inspections and one level three inspection.

Of the 116 inspections, only 29 of the tractor-trucks and 20 of the trailers received a CVSA decal for being in compliance, which exempts the vehicles from further inspection for a 90-day period, unless they have an obvious safety defect.

Across the state, inspectors placed 186 drivers out of service for hours-of-service violations. Other violations ranged from false log violations to suspended, expired and cancelled licenses and having the improper endorsement. Thirteen drivers were placed out of service for drug or alcohol violations. Troopers issued 42 tickets for seatbelt violations.

Vehicle out-of-service violations across the state included 1,123 trucks that needed a brake adjustment, 922 that had brake system problems, 188 that had tire or wheel problems and 273 that had light malfunctions.

DPS Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers, along with Highway Patrol troopers and other inspectors who have received specialized training in commercial vehicle inspection, stopped commercial vehicles to inspect safety equipment and check driver licenses, endorsements and log books. Troopers also looked for possible drug or alcohol use.

The annual Roadcheck program, which stretches from Mexico to Canada, is designed to reduce commercial vehicle highway fatalities through increased vehicle safety. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which sponsors Roadcheck, reports a significant decrease in the commercial vehicle crash rate in North America since the program's start in 1988.

Troopers issued 2,554 CVSA decals during Roadcheck 2007.

E-mail JoAnn at editor@waxahachiedailylght.com