Crackdowns Begin Across the US

by Jana Ritter - Published: 8/07/2014

This weekend Illinois State police are joining a number of other states for a massive nationwide public safety effort with commercial truck drivers being central to the campaign.

In an effort to reduce traffic fatalities such as the recent tragedy that killed four people on I-55, state troopers are specifically focusing on commercial drivers and in Illinois law enforcement will be out in full force along the Interstate 90/94 corridor. “The recent fatal crash on I-55 is just another example of the tragic consequences resulting from unsafe commercial motor vehicle driving,” District 15 State Police Capt. Luis Gutierrez said.

Illinois State Police

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Because the truck driver who caused the deadly I-55 chain reaction is also alleged to have falsified his logs books, troopers are planning to pull more trucks over specifically to check logbooks as well. “One of the many ways that we look at fatigued driving is obviously with the hours of service, record duty status – as is also known as a log book,” State Police Master Sgt. Todd Armstrong said. The state troopers also say they will start this weekend’s safe driving initiative by cracking down on all motorists for speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and failure to wear seat-belts.

On Tuesday Georgia Gov. Paul LePage also joined the crackdown, promising stricter legislation designed to reduce distracted driving and even enlisting truck drivers to become a part of the public education campaign that will accompany the enforcement effort. LePage also said that suspending licenses is more of an incentive to reduce distracted driving than increasing fines is. “I used to think fines were the answers, but I really don’t think fines work,” LePage said. “I think we’re going to have to look at giving them a vacation from driving. We’re going to try to make the law stricter so people understand we are serious.”

Chief of the Maine State Police also announced Tuesday that his department is stepping up its enforcement effort as well. The state of Maine also received federal funding for public service announcements, running messages at visitor centers and riding along with truck drivers, which provide an elevated view to see into vehicles.

The Bureau of Highway Safety also is calling on truck drivers to help remind drivers not to drive while distracted. Signs have already been added to the cargo section of 16 commercial trucks with the message,

“One text or call could wreck it all.”

While most truck drivers would certainly agree they’d have no problem being part of the effort to make the roads safer, many feel double targeted by both law enforcement and employers making it a no win situation when it comes to keeping record of their driving hours.