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What State Is Succeeding In Reducing Trucking Accidents?

Kudos to public safety officials in Massachusetts for their hard work in reducing trucking accidents.

Three of the biggest safety hazards presented by the trucking industry are (1) too heavy of loads — which makes it more difficult to safely control the trucks; (2) improperly maintained vehicles; and (3) truckers driving beyond the allowed number of hours.

Police officers have long known that face inherent problems in trying to remedy these issues.

A story in yesterday’s Boston Globe talked about the problems and some of the measures that Massachusetts is taking to improve safety.

When talking about the problem, the story noted:

When a station is operating — we’ve all seen those illuminated open and closed signs — vehicles that meet the criteria must pull over or face a $500 fine. Theoretically, police just open shop and let violators come to them.

In reality, it doesn’t work that way. The moment a weigh station opens, truckers are on their CB radios spreading the news. Drivers with no alternative may pull over until the “closed’’ sign lights up. A company might even delay shipments to avoid inspections.

“It becomes a game of cat and mouse,’’ says Sergeant Peter Littlefield, head of truck enforcement at the State Police barracks in Concord. “A lot of the guys you get are the good guys. The bad guys go around you.’’

The story also pointed out:

Federal law prohibits truckers from driving more than 11 straight hours, but drivers frequently lie about shifts in order to make more money, police say.

But Massachusetts is fighting back.  Instead of the standard weigh stations, the state police have started using portable weigh stations that they can set up at known problem areas or at random points along the road.  And when they do it, they take the enforcement seriously.

The program seems to be working.  The number of fatal trucking accidents has decreased by 20 percent in recent years so that Massachusetts now has the lowest fatality rate in the country for accidents involving commercial vehicles.

Maybe we could use a little of that program in Texas?

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