Ohio Truck Inspectors Found Increase in 2006

CLEVELAND (AP) - State inspectors found more than 230,000 violations after examining trucks and their drivers, a 10 percent increase over 2005, state safety officials said.

The inspectors looked at more than 90,000 trucks to make sure drivers were properly licensed and the trucks met federal safety standards. They yanked 27 percent of the trucks off the road because of violations, The Plain Dealer reported Sunday.

The most serious violations can idle trucks and drivers, which costs money for drivers and their employers. Bald tires, worn brakes, broken springs and improperly secured loads can lead to accidents, said Duane DeBruyne, a spokesman for the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A few companies give the trucking industry a bad reputation for safety, but motorists should not worry, said David Bartosic, a spokesman for the Ohio Trucking Association. Unsafe trucks are easily uncovered through inspections and statistics do not show that accidents are caused by defective brakes or tires, he said.

The Truck Safety Coalition disagrees. John Lannen, executive director of the Washington, D.C., advocacy group, said if violations did not concern law enforcement officials, inspectors would not have the authority to write tickets and sideline trucks.

Ohio has the nation's fifth-largest volume of truck traffic and the sixth-largest interstate network. Inspections make the state's roadways safer, said Milan Orbovich, head of truck enforcement at Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Inspectors have seen better equipment in the last few years because of increased enforcement, he said.

Last year, 163 Ohio motorists died in 5,276 accidents involving commercial trucks, and the state ranked eighth in the nation in fatal truck accidents in 2005, the last year for which rankings are available. Through May, commercial trucks were involved in 58 fatal crashes in Ohio, resulting in 62 deaths.

Ohio's 169 truck inspectors work either for the state patrol or PUCO and enforce laws set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The inspectors do not have the power to arrest drivers, except for about 50 troopers who are trained to examine trucks.