How safe is that 18-wheeler you just passed on the highway? You might be surprised

A Texas Department of Public Safety inspector talks with a truck driver during Roadcheck 2018.
A Texas Department of Public Safety inspector talks with a truck driver during Roadcheck 2018. Texas DPS

State inspectors pulled over nearly 8,000 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles during a recent spot check — and a whopping 25 percent of the trucks had safety violations that required them to be taken out of service.

This year, the annual inspection initiative known as Roadcheck 2018 was conducted June 5-7 on highways across the state. In all, 7,980 trucks and other large vehicles were inspected, and 1,975 of them — about one fourth of the big rigs — were taken out of service.

The trucks were taken out of service for bad brakes, worn tires and other safety violations.

The three-day inspection was conducted by specially trained troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, civilian inspectors, compliance review investigators and local partner agencies.

In Texas, while police typically need a reason to pull over a motorist (i.e., a moving violation), drivers of commercial vehicles can be pulled over anytime for a spot check of their vehicles and their paperwork to ensure they are complying with safety laws.

"Only officers that are specially trained in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are authorized to perform Department of Transportation inspections of a motor carrier vehicle and inter modal equipment in operation on roadways," said Lt. Lonny Haschel, a DPS spokesman.

During the most recent Roadcheck 2018, 301 drivers were placed out of service for offenses such as failure to have a proper license, or for driving a vehicle beyond the allowed number of consecutive hours.

DPS issued 1,258 citations and 18,178 warnings, according to an agency news release.

The percentage of trucks taken off the road for safety violations during Roadcheck 2018 was higher than in previous years, but not by much.

Last year, 1,938 of 8,182 trucks inspected (23.6 percent) were taken off the road for safety violations, according to DPS records.

In 2016, 1,751 of 7,795 trucks inspected (22.5 percent) were taken out of service, records show.

City cameras in Grand Prairie caught the moment that an 18-wheeler hauling fertilizer tipped over on a flyover ramp near I-20 westbound on Monday. Grand Prairie police reported that the wreck caused the flyover ramp to be shut down for 4 hours to

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796; @gdickson
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