Thousands of unsafe trucks ordered off roads

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Everything from bad brakes to bad drivers led the Tennessee Highway Patrol to take away the keys of more than five thousand commercial truck drivers so far this year.

Tractor trailers move products all of us depend on like food and water. But some carry deadly cargo like hazardous chemicals. So you expect these huge vehicles to be in tip top shape. But that's not always the case.

A local 8 News investigation shows the THP this year placed 5,202 trucks out of service because of safety problems. That's more than a hundred a week.

THP also snatched the keys from nearly three thousand unsafe truck drivers. "I'd say that's great. I think it's past time they do something about it," said Sharon Clayton.

"It needed to be done a long time ago," Steve Yearwood said.

THP Sargeant Randy Martin says troopers have always paid close attention to trucks. "You're looking at the entire vehicle from bumper to bumper and everything in between."

Truck safety violations are on the rise because troopers are increasing the number of truck inspections. And some truckers don't have a problem with it. "I look at whatever has to be done," said trucker Wesley Delong.

Clayton says she's had multiple close calls with truckers. "I drive up from West Knoxville to downtown everyday and they pull over on you, and I always wonder why nobody stops them."

Exactly the types of violations THP targets. But it's the more serious problems that force trucks or a driver out of service. Sgt. Martin remembers one of his worst cases, which involved dangerous chemicals leaking inside a trailer.

"This in particular hazmat was a poison, which meant if you breathed it in it could be deadly to you," Martin said.

Other reasons to pull a truck off the road include broken lights, bad brakes or bald tires.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There are some things regular drivers can do on the roads to look for and report dangerous trucks. Like trucks weaving in traffic or loose cargo.

"You need to call that in. It doesn't hurt to call it in and we can send somebody out in that area," said Martin.

Yearwood said, "these truck drivers, if they find out they're being checked, they're more likely to obey the law."

THP says if you see something say something by simply dialing 911.

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