Each year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration presents the Safety Enforcement Improvement Award to the state police force showing the most improvement in cost efficiency and traffic enforcement in its truck safety enforcement program. Pennsylvania state police won the 2012 award for the strides they have made in keeping unsafe commercial vehicles off state roads and preventing commercial vehicle accidents through the Pennsylvania Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.
The goal of the Pennsylvania Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program is to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities related to trucks and other commercial vehicles. The program is a joint effort among the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, state police and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The program is funded by federal grants and seeks to implement consistent measures with a proven track record of efficacy, such as roadside inspections.
Pennsylvania State Police have over 30 full-time commercial vehicle enforcement teams, each consisting of 2 to 3 officers. Teams inspect up to 10 commercial vehicles such as buses and tractor-trailers each day. The roadside inspections last between 30 and 90 minutes. Police were able to conduct over 93,000 inspection in 2010 alone – a 14 percent increase from the number of inspection in 2009.
Teams can conduct seven different levels of inspection when they stop a vehicle. Level I inspections are the most thorough, covering everything about the vehicle, including load paperwork, log books, vehicle weight, tire condition, brakes, lights, signals and exhaust.
Keeping Unsafe Trucks off Roads
Owners of vehicles with safety violations can incur stiff penalties. Weight violations carry fines that range from $50 to many thousands of dollars, depending how overweight the vehicle is. Paperwork errors can cost drivers $111 and companies $136. Brake and exhaust violation fines can run up to $1,000.
Perhaps the most effective weapon the enforcement teams have for ensuring safe roadways is the ability to make commercial trucks remain parked until the drivers fix the safety hazards.
Contact an Attorney
Despite their best efforts, Pennsylvania authorities cannot keep all unsafe commercial vehicles off the state’s roads. If you have been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, seek the assistance of an adept personal injury lawyer who has experience with such cases to help you recover just and proper compensation.