DPS conducting commercial vehicle inspections on I-10, I-19

DPS conducting commercial vehicle inspections on I-10, I-19

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - At up to 80,000 pounds, big rigs can do a lot of damage on roadways if they're not up to code.

That's why troopers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety are cracking down on big rigs, and they're doing so this week as part of a special three day operation.

"Right now we're saturating Tucson and the Tucson area with as many commercial vehicle inspectors as we can," said Trooper Joel Zazueta, one of 60 commercial vehicle inspectors DPS sent to Tucson this week.

Operation Southern Shield is aimed at keeping Interstate 10 and Interstate 19 as safe as possible, considering tens of thousands of commercial trucks travel through Tucson every day.

"Making sure that those vehicles are in good working order and the drivers are well rested," Zazueta said.

That includes weight checks at select rest stops and random inspections along the interstate.

"I'm looking for a truck. I stop it, I inspect it," Zazueta said. "If I find something, good. If I don't find something, better, you know."

Checking the tires and other moving parts is one thing. But there's also the important logbook.

For truck drivers, time is money, which is why altered logbooks is a very common violation.

"If that driver is lying on his logbook and we're able to show that he's lying on it  and he's hiding hours, that will take that driver off the road for at least 10 hours," Zazueta said.

While truckers are the focus of this enforcement, sharing the road with big rigs is everybody's responsibility.

"They have a lot of blind spots," Zazueta said. "If you're really close to that trailer, that driver probably doesn't even know you're there."

Daniel Mann couldn't agree more.

He's been a commercial driver for 47 years and said truckers have at least four spots, or "no zones," where they pretty much cannot see.

"When they're up in this area, you lose track in the mirror," Mann said, pointing to an SUV parked about 10 feet behind the driver-side door of his 18-wheeler.

Mann said there are similar blind spots directly in front and immediately behind every big rig.

Bottom line, give truckers a little space.

At 80,000 pounds, no commercial truck is able to stop that quickly.

Operation Southern Shield runs from March 1 through March 3, 2016.

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