SALEM, Ore. (AP) More than 25 percent of commercial truck drivers who checked in at Oregon stops last week had been behind the wheel too long without rest, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The drivers were screened at three locations along Interstate 5 Ashland, Woodburn and just south of Roseburg and the agency put 256 drivers out of service because of violations.
ODOT spokesman David House told the Statesman Journal that large-scale inspections occur every few months and typically result in 20 percent to 25 percent of drivers being taken out of service. He said the most recent inspection yielded more violations because the agency coordinated its efforts with Washington state.
If, for example, a driver was inspected in Washington and again in Ashland, officials at the inspection site know whether the vehicle arrived earlier than it should have.
"We were coordinating information and better able to identify suspected fatigued drivers," he said. "We're keeping them honest, keeping them safe."
House said driver fatigue is a major factor in commercial vehicle crashes, and that is the reason for limiting the hours they can be on the road.
Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year and results in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration reports. In Oregon, 74 such deaths have occurred in the past five years.
"With commercial drivers, this is more important because they drive something big and heavier," House said.
The information from the inspections is recorded in a national database and analyzed. ODOT later approaches drivers and trucking companies with too many violations. House said that last week's effort did not trigger further investigations of truckers or companies.
Requirements regarding how frequently commercial truck drivers are required to stop and for how long varies between vehicle types. Because the classification is defined as any vehicle more than 10,000 pounds, commercial trucks include some passenger vehicles, log trucks and trucks carrying hazardous materials, among others.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press