Celebrating 75 Years

Colonel's Column

Patrol commercial vehicle inspections lead to
safer roads and can help economy

The commercial trucking industry represents a large portion of the backbone of the national economy. The next time you are in a store, take note, the chances are most of the items you see and buy were delivered in a commercial vehicle. Transportation experts have estimated that a commercial truck can reach approximately three-quarters of the population of the United States within a 10-hour drive from Ohio.  

In struggling economic conditions like presently seen in the United States, the trucking industry is significantly affected. Through issues like high fuel costs and other budgetary concerns there is a tendency for commercial motor carries to cut safety budgets. During tough economic times, it is critically important to make sure carriers are maintaining and operating their trucks properly.

The value of the Patrol’s commercial vehicle enforcement program is inspections are occurring right on the side of the road. Last year Patrol motor carrier enforcement inspectors conducted around 85,000 inspections; the highest such total since 1995 when inspectors transferred into the Patrol from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. When considering that crashes and fatalities involving trucks is on the decline at the same time that inspections are increasing, it is easy to see a positive public safety cause and effect connected to the commercial vehicle inspection program.

The roadside immediacy of the Patrol’s commercial vehicle inspection program means an unsafe truck or driver can immediately be placed out of service if a violation is observed that meets any in a set of agreed upon North American industry safety standards. These are violations deemed so egregious by both industry and safety partners they are likely to cause a breakdown or crash.

Approximately 25 percent of all commercial vehicle inspections and about 6 to 8 percent of the drivers checked by the Patrol do not meet those criteria and are placed out of service on the spot, thus providing significant public value before an incident can occur. Roadside inspection results are also tied into a federally maintained safety rating program by which carriers are incentivized to operate safely. A favorable safety rating can mean lower insurance rates, and increased business and marketing opportunities for a carrier. As a result, the higher-quality carriers welcome the inspection process because they want to keep the carriers who are cutting corners, particularly as it relates to safety, out of the business.

The recent bridge collapse tragedy in Minnesota and Ohio’s Silver Bridge collapse tragedy in 1967 point to another value of the Patrol’s inspection program; maintaining roads and bridges from excessive damage. That is the basic value of the weight enforcement program which directly ties to taxpayer savings from preventing road degradation. The Patrol has 13 operational platform scale facilities and 12 portable scale teams ensuring that commercial vehicles do not travel Ohio roads weighing more than the state law of 80,000 pounds. Patrol inspectors have recorded stops of vehicles that exceeded 200,000 pounds.

Patrol inspectors work closely with the Ohio Department of Transportation to escort oversize loads to ensure safe transport on Ohio roads. Many times, the escort involves equipment that is needed to help the economy because, for instance, a plant has shut down and equipment needs to be moved from one location to another.

Also, the Patrol’s bus inspection program is nationally unique. Each bus in Ohio is inspected by the Patrol once per year, and a decal is placed on the vehicle when it passes inspection. These vehicles include charter busses, airport shuttle busses, and any other bus that might be used in commerce. This program came about several years ago when the Ohio Bus Owners Association approached the Patrol to start an inspection program. Like in the commercial trucking industry, the good carriers welcome the inspection program because it keeps unsafe carriers out of the business.

Every day Patrol commercial vehicle inspectors find vehicles with bad tires, poorly operating brakes, or a variety of other problems that could potentially lead to a tragic situation on an Ohio road. Commercial vehicle safety is obviously important because of the size and weight of the vehicles being operated. By making sure commercial vehicles are as safe as possible to be on the road, and making sure the drivers are qualified to be on the road, Patrol motor carrier enforcement inspectors are working for a safer Ohio and stronger economic future for our country.

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