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Texas Officials Focus on Unsafe Trucks

Over the past year, truckers traveling near Atascosa County, Corpus Christi, McMullen County, and other parts of Texas were in for a big surprise. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) inspectors were on the roads and were making sure that unsafe trucks were off the roads. Over the course of several days, troopers and inspectors were hard at work checking vehicles and pulling unsafe rigs out of service. These continuing efforts were all in the name of Operation Texas Thunder.

During its November 17, 2011 Public Safety Commission meeting, the DPS announced the results of its newest truck safety law enforcement efforts. The DPS report revealed that since the start of 2011, over 330,000 commercial vehicles had been inspected. Of that number, over 66,000 were deemed unsafe and were removed from the road. As a result of its heightened enforcement efforts, 12,301 commercial drivers were also removed from the roads for safety violations.

While the DPS cannot offer similar statistics from previous years or a breakdown of inspection numbers, administrators were able to cite brakes, tires, and lights as the common mechanical issue. Another issue could be driver fatigue.

Even though they account for less than 4 percent of registered vehicles nationally, commercial trucks are the kings of American roads; however, truck safety has continued to be a major public safety issue with big rigs being associated with tens of thousands of crashes annually and nearly 4,000 deaths last year. For Texans, the problem is staggering. Commercial vehicle crashes are responsible for approximately 15 percent of the Lone Star State's highway fatalities.

Big truck accidents can cause more than minor scrapes and bruises. Accident victims can suffer from long-term disability, traumatic brain injury and even death. In addition, victims and their families can be saddled with mountains of medical bills and other issues.

As the national debate continues about improved road safety, Texas is dealing with the fact that nearly one in every five vehicles is being removed from service. In realizing that the state's commercial trucks covered 20.86 billion miles in 2008, state leaders are making a difference through initiatives like Operation Texas Thunder.

Unsafe big trucks threaten everyone sharing our nation's roads. From 2009 to 2010, truck-related fatalities increased significantly from barely 3,300 to almost 4,000. Taking steps to get unsafe commercial vehicles and buses out of service is just one way of preventing major accidents and saving lives.

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