Oct. 27, 2009
For more information, contact Sally Ridenour (503) 986-3359
Oregon Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Transportation Division inspectors conducted an inspection operation last week at the Ashland and Klamath Falls ports of entry and La Grande and Olds Ferry weigh stations focusing on commercial vehicle drivers’ logbooks and qualifications. During the multi-day event, 690 safety inspections were completed and 28 percent of truck drivers were placed out of service for logbook and other safety violations.
Under trucking regulations, drivers must take mandatory rest breaks after driving a specified number of hours. These regulations seek to prevent driver fatigue by controlling the number of consecutive hours drivers can spend behind the wheel without stopping for rest.
For the last few 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.
These efforts appear to be paying off. ODOT data shows fatalities in truck-involved crashes declined almost 35 percent in 2008 from 2007. Truck-at-fault crashes have also declined, from 694 in 2007 to 668 in 2008.
“The Oregon Department of Transportation’s overriding priority is safety,” said Russell. “Our data tells us there is a correlation between identifying unsafe trucks and drivers and reducing crashes.”
Commercial vehicle safety inspections are not random. Employees select the vehicle and driver using several sorting tools, including weigh station records, safety records, and information in national databases. During the inspection, the driver is interviewed and supporting documentation is reviewed to verify the driver’s logbook.
In Oregon, an average of 795 drivers a month or 28 percent are placed out of service for logbook, hours of service or other violations. The national driver out of service rate is about nine percent. Placing a driver out of service means he or she cannot drive until they take a mandatory rest break or correct other safety 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.
This week’s inspection event coincides with Operation Safe Driver (Oct. 19-23), a nationwide campaign to improve commercial driver safety through effective education, awareness and enforcement.