Inspections Save Lives and Make Highways Safer

“Roadcheck 2009” mobilizes federal, state and local law enforcement officers from more than a thousand locations across the country, Mexico and Canada. They’re checking commercial vehicles and drivers for compliance of federal safety regulations. Pat Hernandez has the story.

The Houston Police Department’s Truck Enforcement Unit has set up shop at a parking lot next to a high school sports complex on the North Fwy in north Houston. Sgt t. Robert Gonzalez says Roadcheck is an annual 72-hour, mandatory vehicle stop along major highways.

“There’s 57 critical items that we check, which includes lights, brakes, air hoses, and anything that’s underneath, and the motor, tires, lug nuts, just anything that could be a safety hazard while they’re out on the road.”

Down the parking lot, Officer CL Hackett is laying on a mechanics creeper underneath a big rig, barking instructions to its driver:

Hackett to driver: “Okay….okay!”

Hackett says he found some critical violations.

“His tires touching the steering pittman arm, which is critical in steering. When he turns, it touches that, so anything could happen. Then he’s got a crack in the spring when he’s hauling that heavy a load, it could give anytime.”

Officer Dale Vecera says truck drivers hope to pass and receive a sticker.

“A DOT officer in another state sees these, they recognize these and know that they passed inspection and, more than likely, they will not be stopped unless we observe another violation that would void this decal.”

Hernandez: “And that tag is good for how long?”

Vecera: “It’s good for three months from when it’s inspected and issued.”

Hernandez: “Do you anticipate issuing a whole bunch of them today?”

Vecera: “No, probably not a whole lot. This guy’s not gonna get one. He’s got not a lot of violations but, he’s gonna have to park here until he get’s them fixed.”

image of officer

Houston trucker Gorjindar Bahia got the bad news from Officer Vecera.

“When he came in front of me, I already knew what the deal was so, he just told me he was going to do inspections so, I was aware of that. I got pulled over before and they did an inspection, everything came out clean. You never know, like small little things on them.”

Hernandez: “So basically, you can’t be behind the wheel until it’s fixed, or what?”

Gorjindar: “Exactly. He just said I’m out of service until I get that tightened up, and then I’m ready to go.”

Local rig checks are frequent, but the Department of Public Safety says troopers are always on the lookout for trucks violating safety regulations.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.