Are Big Rigs Safe?

Houston freeways and highways are notorious for traffic. Long commutes are made even worse by accidents involving big rig trucks, which happen quite frequently. The Houston Police Department has an entire division devoted to making sure trucks are safe and drivers are obeying the rules. Bill Stamps reports.


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(Sound of eighteen-wheeler engine)

It’s a cold, rainy and very windy day, but the voice you hear is from a Houston police officer who is lying on his back underneath a large eighteen-wheeler truck making sure it’s up to code.

(Sounds of HPD officer yelling over 18-wheeler engine)

The HPD truck inspection division inspects a number of trucks each day. But on days like this one, they do a large scale inspection and pull over almost every truck they see in an area.

This is officer Bryon Vecera:

“We pick different areas of town. Basically, we try and find a parking lot big enough to hold several trucks and we have officers pull them off the streets, just randomly, and we do a fifty-seven item inspection on the trucks.”

You name it, the officers check it. They even check the driver’s log books to make sure he or she is getting enough sleep. It’s all for safety reasons but truck driver Santiago Avalez says it’s a waste of time.

“It just is, I mean they don’t have nothing better to do than pull us over.”

If the trucks pass, they are given a sticker that’s supposed to be good for ninety days. Still driver Geraldo Martinez says he gets stopped all the time.

“Almost every day, or every two days, this happens a lot.”

An overturned truck can keep a highway closed for half a day or more depending on what was spilled. But officer Vecera says the big wheelers are a necessary part of our way of life.

“I mean you gotta look at it this way: Everything that we have — our clothes our food — it all comes by truck. It may come by rail, it may come by ship but for it to get to the consumer and to the store it has to come by truck.”

Delivery trucks may make life easier, but when it comes to traffic, they can also make it such big pain.

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