1 in 3 Trucks Too Dangerous for Roads - NBC Southern California

1 in 3 Trucks Too Dangerous for Roads

Investigation shows lack of truck safety

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    NEWSLETTERS

    1 in 3 Trucks Too Dangerous for Roads
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    MESQUITE, NV - OCTOBER 06: A truck drives by skid marks from a semi-tractor trailer on northbound Interstate 15 on October 6, 2010 near Mesquite, Nevada. Steve Lee, frontman for the Swiss rock band Gotthard was killed on Tuesday at the spot when a semi swerved on the rainy highway and hit a parked motorcycle that hit Lee. A group of motorcyclists Lee was traveling with had pulled over to put on rain clothing. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    Nearly one in every three trucks that get inspected at a weigh station on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs is so dangerous that it must be taken off the road immediately.

    The truck inspection facility on westbound Interstate 10 in the San Gorgonio Pass tops a statewide list for catching the most semi-trailers busted for safety violations on California highways last year, according to the Desert Sun.

    California Highway Patrol officers at the weigh station and inspection shed uncovered 16,946 safety violations in the first nine months of 2010. That figure does not include violations at the eastbound station, on the other side of the freeway that links Los Angeles and the Inland Empire with the Coachella Valley and Arizona.

    One truck was discovered with a 150-pound wheel clinging to an axle by a single remaining lug nut. More common are broken brake drums or cracked wheel rims, the Desert Sun reported.

    During an Oct. 6 inspection, an air brake line was spotted dangling unconnected behind a tractor, meaning an 80,000-pound truck had been hurtling down the freeway with a trailer that had no brakes at all. A light tap on the brakes would have caused an immediate jackknife, with the trailer passing the tractor.

    In all, nearly 78,000 semi-trailers driving California roads were busted by state inspectors for safety problems last year. Locally, state inspectors who slide underneath the trucks say the condition of many of the vehicles crisscrossing Coachella Valley roads is so bad that they warn their families to keep away from them on the highways.

    "My wife works four to five miles from home," inspector Gerardo Medina told the Desert Sun. "Still, I tell her don't go near the trucks because I've seen it all."

    In fact, in the first nine months of this year, the Banning facility -- considered the main hub for commercial trucks heading into or out of California -- have recorded 38,879 equipment violations, 13, 724 traffic citations, 2,734 driver violations and 582 driver license problem that included revoked or suspended licenses.

    The Banning inspection facility sits on a stretch of the San Bernardino (10) Freeway considered the fastest and straightest shot to the 6,600 warehouses and distribution centers across Southern California and to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

    Last year across the state, the California Highway Patrol recorded 77,739 violations against semi-trailers at its 16 inspections facilities.