Road check 2004 Kicks Off in West Memphis

June 7, 2004--Posted at 4:30 p.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS--"We have about 43,000 deaths on our nations highways and around 5,000 of those are connected with crashes with large trucks," said Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Annette Sandberg.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department along with several other transportation and safety organizations are kicking off an annual three day road check of commercial vehicles emphasizing year round safety on our highways. "We have officers all over the country doing inspections of large trucks and buses looking for truck defects and checking out log books. We are just making sure our highways are as safe as possible," said Sandberg.

"Typically, every third or fourth truck will be pulled in for a random type inspection,"said Arkansas State Police Officer Paul Claunch.

They also have a computer generated system where officers are able to put in a license number and find out how many violations the truck, it's driver, or the company has had.

"So that gives the officer a red flag to pull the vehicle over, and do an inspection and look for defects," said Sandberg.

When the driver pulls into the weigh station that is when the police officer will inspect the vehicle. He checks everything from how long the driver has been on duty to his latest medical checkup. The officer will make sure physical limitations are not being exhausted, and hearing aids and contact lenses are being used if needed. The vehicle is then inspected for mechanical errors like faulty breaks or broken turn signals.

Officials say one of the main objectives for this program is to save lives on our nation's highways. "Not only does it help us on the highways, it helps other people on the highways to know that we are a little safer," said ABF truck driver Otto Schmeckenbecher.