Impaired truck drivers and unsafe commercial vehicles are again the focus of the 15th interagency police and motor carrier operation currently underway in southern Oregon at the Klamath Falls Port of Entry on Highway 97. During the 72-hour operation that began at 12:01 a.m., September 23rd, and runs through 11:59 p.m., September 25th, police officers and truck inspectors will be working with Drug Recognition Evaluators (DRE) and K9 officers targeting operator impairment and vehicle safety.
“Operation Trucker Check”, a successful enforcement and inspection program that provides an ongoing look into commercial vehicle and driver safety, involves a team of police officers and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) commercial vehicle inspectors looking for driver impairment related to alcohol, drugs, or fatigue, and vehicle equipment safety. First held in 1998 at the Ashland Port of Entry, and now being held for the second time held at Klamath Falls Port of Entry, trucker checks have also been held in Woodburn, Ontario, and Cascade Locks.
The last “Operation Trucker Check” was held April 15 – 17, 2008 at the Farewell Bend Port of Entry westbound Interstate 84 in the Huntington area. Of the 574 inspections conducted, 12 percent resulted in commercial vehicles being placed out of service and 14 percent of the drivers were placed out of service. Officers and inspectors issued 24 motor carrier-related citations and 542 warnings. Six arrests were made for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants; four of which were commercial truck drivers.
“The value of this inspection and enforcement program helps keep a keen eye on vehicle and driver safety concerns with the support of the Oregon Trucking Association,” said Sergeant Dave MacKenzie, who oversees the OSP Motor Carrier Enforcement Unit. “These around-the-clock unannounced safety inspections have yanked several impaired drivers and unsafe vehicles off the road before something bad happens.”
Sergeant MacKenzie pointed out the program’s four goals for “Operation Trucker Check XV”:
1) Identifying commercial vehicle driver and equipment violations, with an emphasis on out-of-service violations;
2) Detecting operator impairment by alcohol and/or substance abuse;
3) Detecting operator impairment by fatigue; and,
4) Detecting any criminal activity occurring in conjunction with commercial motor vehicle operations.
Oregon State Police (OSP) and ODOT will work toward these goals by conducting Level I, Level II, and Level III truck inspections to identify drivers impaired by fatigue or substances, compliance with federal hours of service regulations, and federal requirement for commercial motor vehicle safety equipment. Trained Drug Recognition Evaluators (DREs) from OSP, Albany Police Department, Tualatin Police Department, and Klamath Falls Police Department will evaluate and identify drug or alcohol impaired drivers.
According to 2007 statistics provided by ODOT’s Motor Carrier Transportation Division:
* The total number of truck crashes dropped in 2007 from 2006 by over 11%
* 61,349 truck safety inspections were conducted in Oregon, up from 59,064 in 2006
* During inspections, critical safety violations were found in 20% of the vehicles and 14% of drivers
* Most common mechanical violation found during inspections continues to be brake-related
* Over 7,000 truck drivers were caught during inspections falsifying log books or keeping inaccurate driver logs books, a sharp rise from the more than 5,000 drivers caught in 2006
Additional motor carrier related information and statistics is available on ODOT’s Web site at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT/SAFETY.shtml .