The Arizona Department of Public Safety has sidelined 140 commercial vehicles after finding their safety standards lacking, following a three-day enforcement effort along Interstate 40 last month.
Our Mesa truck accident lawyers understand most of these violations were mechanical, and included problems with the vehicle brake systems, wheel and tire problems and overloading.
Additionally, there were 135 commercial drivers pulled from active service, mostly for exceeding federal standards in terms of service hours. A few even had records that clearly falsified their duty status.
The detail, which took place outside of Flagstaff with the aid of officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Arizona Trucking Association, occurred amid fierce debate about whether to expand current weight limits for semi-trucks.
As the results of this most recent enforcement action clearly show, many commercial trucking companies can’t be trusted to follow current federal rules. Despite concerns that the current limits already represent a safety tipping point, we can all but expect these firms to further test these higher limits – putting us all at even greater risk.
The detail focused involved comprehensive commercial vehicle inspections as well as thorough examinations of driver’s credentials and reported hours of service.
That fact that more than 270 violations were uncovered in the course of a three-day operation at one location on the Arizona interstate is disturbing. It’s also worth bearing in mind in light of the introduction of the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, or SETA.
Despite it’s moniker, SETA has little to do with safety and everything to do with boosting industry profits. It would increase the maximum weight limit for tractor-trailers from the current 80,000 pounds up to 97,000 pounds for six-axle vehicles. Backers of this measure, which include the American Trucking Association, say it would reduce fuel costs and pollution.
However, independent long-haul truckers say this is a bad move. They cite the fact that while large trucks make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles, they are involved in 12 percent of all total crashes.
Instead, safety advocates back a competing measure called the Safety Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act, or SHIPA. This bill would ensure the current 80,000-pound limit remains and that a loophole that allows some states to flout this rule would be closed.
It’s worth noting that 75 percent of the public opposes heavier trucks and that even more than that – 85 percent – don’t want to pay for damages done by heavier trucks.
While SETA may ultimately be more cost-effective for the trucking companies and the businesses relying on them, the cost paid by the rest of the public will inevitably be too great a price to pay to increase industry profits.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officials Place 140 vehicles out of service during Operation Roadcheck, June 13, 2013, Press Release, Arizona Department of Public Safety