PSC officials conduct annual 72-hour inspections of big rigs

W. Va. — Big rigs pulled into the Coopers Rock weigh station, off Interstate 68, June 5 so officials could check travel logs, tires and brakes.

They’ll repeat that June 6 and 7.

Officers of the Transportation Division of the West Virginia Public Service Commission are inspecting commercial vehicles as part of the annual International Road check.

For 72 hours, starting at midnight June 5 and running until 11:59 p.m. June 7, the officers are setting up targeted enforcement at weigh stations at Coopers Rock, Mineral Wells and Winfield, as well as various high-traffic, high-crash areas throughout the state.

“This is more of a saturated enforcement, it’s round-the-clock enforcement for 72 hours with different areas of focus,” said Matthew Epling, a special operations section enforcement officer with the PSC. “This year’s focus is on hours of service.”

Federal regulations limit the number of hours  commercial vehicle operators are allowed to drive, and consequently, how long they must stop and wait once they’ve reached that threshold, before continuing on the road.

Epling said a law that went into effect in December 2017 put the spotlight on hours-of-service. In addition, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s report from last year showed hours-of-service violations were the top cause of commercial vehicle operators being placed out-of-service.

“That’s the focus, but we’re checking for many other violations as well,” he said.

The officers complete a 37-step inspection on each commercial vehicle they check. That includes everything from the driver’s information to individually inspecting parts of the vehicle like the tires, wheels, rims, brakes and frame.

“You name it, we’re checking it,” Epling said. “We’ve already had several violations for lights, brakes and hours-of-service.”

If they find a violation, the officers go by the federal guidelines. Drivers can continue on for some of the minor violations, but many violations will place the vehicle and driver out-of-service, and the violation will have to be taken care of before they can continue on. An hours-of-service violation requires the driver to stay in place for 10 hours before resuming driving.

Epling said  the 72-hour roadcheck is done all across North America, including the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“On average, 17 trucks are checked every minute during the 72-hour period,” he said.

The primary purpose of the annual 72-hour International Roadcheck is to increase compliance with safety rules and to remove unsafe commercial vehicles and drivers from the highways.

“We do the same thing on any other day, but we just put more of an emphasis on it during these three days,” Epling said.

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