Surprise commercial vehicle inspections by the Nebraska State Patrol resulted in 30 trucks being taken out of service and the issuing of $6,400 worth of citations to truckers Wednesday, Aug. 11, in Fremont.
Eleven troopers stationed just east of U.S. Highway 77 on Washington Street conducted the morning and afternoon inspections and another six officers were roaming the area and conducting inspections.
The officers checked 64 commercial vehicles for compliance with federal safety regulations and laws pertaining to weight, size, registration and permits. According to comments Patrol Sgt. Ken Kavan made to the Fremont Tribune, the selective enforcement operation was paid for mostly with money from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The patrol officers who did the inspections are part of the Metropolitan Aggressive and Preventive Selective Team and had been specially trained. They stopped all commercial vehicles on Washington Street and the roving troopers stopped every commercial vehicle they saw.
“Most drivers are happy to see us,” Kavan told the newspaper. “The ones that sometimes don't like us are the owners (of the trucks).
“We're looking for anything that would put a truck in a situation to cause an accident or contribute to an accident. We put a couple of trucks out of service today that didn't have brakes on the trailer.”
There are more trucks on Nebraska roads than there were when the special inspection team was started almost seven years ago, Kavan said, but truck accidents are down 20 percent.
Not all of the commercial vehicles that had problems were put out of service this week. Those drivers whose vehicles had infractions such as non-working headlights and windshield wipers were given warnings because that equipment wasn't necessary during the day Wednesday.
Kavan said that most commercial truck drivers are familiar with regulations and inspection routines, but that some farmers whose vehicles were inspected were caught off guard.
“For farmers, it might be more of a learning experience,” Kavan said.
“The NSP is not out to ruin anyone's livelihood, so farmers with trucks full of hogs that didn't pass inspection were escorted to Hormel before their trucks were put out of service. We put the trucks out of service and take the driver to a safe location to cite them. We try to put them someplace where their truck can be fixed.
“The driver is fined, not the company. Most reputable companies will take care of anything pertaining to the truck, but not traffic violations.”