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Beat the Traffic: Police--Houston drivers face thousands of unsafe trucks

by Katherine Whaley / 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 24, 2010 at 8:40 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 24 at 1:06 PM

If you drive in Houston, you share the road with thousands of trucks, and many of them are driving with multiple safetey violations. 

I went out with officers from Houston Police Department's truck enforcement detail to inspect commercial vehicles along US-290.  Sergeant Robert Gonzales explained that it is especially important for Houstonians to be wary of the trucks around them, simply because there are so many of them out them on our roadways.  "Since Houston is a port city, there are approximately 200 to 250 thousand trucks, commercial vehicles, that pass through the Houston area on a daily basis," Sgt. Gonzales said.   
 
Officers have a long inspection checklist.  They review everything from load securement, tire pressure, weight, to driver qualifications.  Several of the trucks we saw weighed nearly 80 thousand pounds, the maximum weight for commercial vehicles.  "The sheer size of these vehicles makes them that much more dangerous to operate," Gonzales told us.  "It’s just like a train, they need a lot more room to stop and a lot more room to operate." Another common problem is unsecured loads. Inspectors count the number of straps that hold down heavy equipment, as well as strap integrity. The penalty for each unsecured load violation ranges from one dollar to five hundred dollars. Sgt. Gonzales says has seen as many as 41 violations on one commercial vehicle.
 
Officers are also quick to remind drivers that their safety on the roadway is literally in their own hands. “When someone is on the road, and they’re texting… it takes away from their attention, and that could lead to serious accidents or up to a fatal accident,” Sgt. Gonzales said.
 
If drivers see unsafe trucks, they should move out of their way as quickly and safely as possible. If it is safe to do so, drivers can also take down the truck’s license plate number and any additional information listed on the vehicle. That information can be reported to the Houston Police Department’s non-emergency line: 713-884-3131.

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