Big rigs focus of CHP crackdown | SierraSun.com
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Big rigs focus of CHP crackdown

Amanda Butler, Sierra Sun

In the past year California has seen a significant increase in the number of big rig-related fatal accidents.

“Truck-at-fault collisions are up 9.5 percent statewide from 10,918 in 1999 to 11,443 in 2000,” said Truckee’s California Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer, Todd Kettwig.

One factor contributing to the increase in accidents is the rise in the amount of trucks traveling the roads.

“Truck traffic is up,” said Kettwig. “I think e-commerce is a big contributor, but also there is a shortage of professional drivers, which means there are more inexperienced drivers out there.”

To help combat the rising number of accidents, Truckee CHP is part of a statewide campaign using the summer to focus on truck code enforcement.

“We are focusing on a couple of things,” said Kettwig. “First, we want to slow (the trucks) down. The speed limit for trucks is 55 mph.”

“Second, we are looking at the distances maintained between trucks, we want to get them to flow smoothly, that helps to reduce traffic.”

Kettwig also said the CHP is looking closely at overweight trucks.

“Overweight trucks are a greater hazard,” said Kettwig. “They destroy the roads and can get off-balanced and flip more easily.”

Truckee area patrol units will target Interstate 80 and Highway 89. Fixed wing aircraft will coordinate with ground patrol units to target top collision factors including speeding, unsafe lane changes and turns, following too closely, stop sign and signal violations, DUI and fatigue.

“Truckers are professional drivers with more training than the average motorist,” said CHP Commissioner Spike Helmick. “They must do their part to reverse this trend. On the same note, motorists must remember that sharing the road with an 80,000-pound vehicle requires drivers to be more alert.”

Helmick also noted, “Trucks have larger blind spots and require a greater distance to stop safely. If everyone followed the law and drove with more caution and courtesy, I’m confident we would see a reduction in the number of collisions.”

Mike Lowrie, owner of Mike Lowrie Trucking Company of Dixon, Calif., thinks stricter enforcement is a positive for the trucking industry.

“I’m 100 percent for this,” said Lowrie. “That’s why the laws are out there … my family drives the highway, I certainly don’t want them put in danger by an unsafe driver.”

Motorists will not escape the effort, as officers will also be on the lookout for drivers who maneuver unsafely around trucks.

Kettwig hopes the crackdown will help keep traffic moving more smoothly during the summer construction months.

“We’re not trying to be sneaky about this,” said Kettwig. “We want truckers and motorists to know what we’re doing and keep that in mind while they are driving.”


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