Commercial vehicles. They're a sight we see just about every day on America's highways but probably pay little attention to unless we are trying to safely navigate around them. But for law enforcement, it's a different story. Paying full attention to these vehicles is vital because an accident involving one of them can be devastating.
When we say "paying attention" to these vehicles, we aren't just talking about watching the actions of the driver that could indicate a safety hazard, we are also talking about things that could be wrong mechanically with the vehicle as well. Everything from malfunctioning brakes to balding tires can lead to a serious or even fatal truck accident, which is why most people are grateful when defective vehicles are taken off the roads by attentive law enforcement.
But as some of our readers know, despite federal safety standards, some law enforcement agencies consider certain defects more in need of attention than others. This means that a commercial vehicle may have to travel across state lines before it is removed from the road.
So how can a truck be unsafe in one state and safe in another? The reason is because of how state agencies enforce safety standards within their jurisdiction. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is in charge of setting the national standard, it's up to the states to enforce these rules. This can be difficult though because each state may deem some safety standards as more important than others, giving a passing grade to a truck another state may deem unsafe.
This results in a huge problem for our California drivers because commercial trucks are not contained to just one jurisdiction. They travel nationally and therefore can become a hazard in any state, including our own.
Although the hope is that law enforcement will hold all trucks to the same standard -- after all, unsafe is unsafe no matter where you are in the United States -- enforcing this standard across jurisdictions may require more effort from the federal government. But according to the executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, this may be difficult at present time because the agency is not big enough such a large industry.
Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Is that big rig road worthy?" Andrew McGill, Dec. 21, 2014