Four law enforcement agencies join to inspect commercial vehicles
CARROLLTON — Officer Scott Burson crawled out from underneath his estimated “20th truck” on a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon.
Burson, a 21-year veteran of the Denton Police Department, is performing random commercial vehicle inspections through a nationwide crackdown that occurs annually during the first week of June, he said.
For the third straight year, the Carrollton, Denton and Lewisville police departments, along with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, are working jointly on a three-day operation to inspect commercial vehicles. The program is part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s National Roadcheck week.
The four area agencies worked together on a crackdown in Lewisville on Tuesday, Carrollton on Wednesday, and one is scheduled today for Denton.
Burson said a full inspection can take up to an hour.
“I go underneath to check brakes, leaks in air lines ... while [Denton Officer] Tom [Birckbichler] does the walk-around inspection,” he said.
Officers performing the inspections were certified to enforce the Federal Motor Carrier Standards after weeks of training at some point in their careers. Once certified, police are able to inspect vehicles anywhere in the United States, Canada and Mexico, officers said.
“Our main reason to be out here is for safety precautions. If their vehicles aren’t properly maintained, they can create a hazard on the roadway not only to them but to other drivers on the roads,” said Carrollton police Officer Craig DeCarlo.
DeCarlo, an 18-year veteran of the force, said that while a vehicle might belong to a large company, ultimately it’s the driver’s responsibility to keep the truck maintained.
“They are very cordial about being pulled over; they know holding a commercial license you are subject to routine checks,” he said.
Sixteen officers from the four agencies were on hand to either patrol or assist with inspections, officials said.
Officers were pulling commercial vehicles from Interstate 35E and State Highway 121, directing them to an area off Marchant Boulevard.
Carrollton Officer Jon Stovall said the sheriff’s office provided roll-on scales for the operation.
“Once they are brought to the inspection site, the trucks are weighed and then randomly selected for a full inspection,” Stovall said.
DeCarlo said that if drivers are found to have a violation, they are issued a ticket and have a chance to call and do a roadside repair.
The most common mechanical violations discovered were defective brakes.
“We don’t want to tow their trucks, and if it comes to that, they have the option of calling their own tow truck,” DeCarlo said.
Violations found by inspectors will be sent through the host city’s court, Carrollton Sgt. Charles Monroe said. That way, he said, each agency will see the maximum benefit of the operation.
Some commercial vehicles were found to be hauling thousands more pounds than allowed.
Stovall said overweight citations written by the sheriff’s office will be taken care of in the respective Justice of the Peace jurisdiction.
Monroe, lead organizer of Carrollton’s host day, said that because of the program’s success, the four participating agencies are in talks regarding an interlocal agreement to do monthly checks starting in the fall.
“We would rotate each host city every month,” Monroe said.
DeCarlo shared that sentiment.
“This is our largest inspection to date, and it all has to do with numbers. When you have more patrol assistance, you can achieve so much more,” he said.
The last event will be from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in Denton near North Loop 288 and Interstate 35.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.