A dump truck loaded with dirt, traveling down the upper Marsac Road on Thursday evening lost its brakes. An accident was avoided because the driver used the run-a-way truck ramp. Commercial vehicles have a propensity for non-compliance and safety issues are almost always found during traffic stop inspections. Park City’s vehicle inspector shared some details with KPCW.
In 2017, Park City dedicated a fulltime safety inspector to the Police Department. Park City Police Officer Ben Powers is assigned to the traffic division and is an authorized inspector through the Certified Vehicle Safety Alliance which is an inter-governmental program between Canada, Mexico and the US.
The accreditation involved 120 hours of class time and more than 30 field inspections. With his accreditation he does not need cause to stop a commercial vehicle for an inspection.
“Every vehicle I stop, I find probably at least two or three violations.”
If violations are egregious there can be substantial fines to the driver and the trucking company. In the run-away truck incident last week, the driver had used the brake test area higher up Marsac Avenue before driving down Ontario Canyon, but the test area doesn’t involve measuring brakes or doing a visual inspection.
After Powers’ inspection, they took the vehicle out of service which means the truck can’t be moved until it is repaired. However, he says the repairs are on the honor system.
“I am getting underneath the truck and I’m measuring how much play is int hat braking system to be able to stop it so when I measured them, three of those brakes would be called out of adjustment. So they’re pushing too far, so they’re not getting maximum braking effort. And another one was called inoperable because it had a broken part on it. Later down the road, with those same violations in place, they’re subject for federal fines up to $10,000 for leaving while being placed out of service.”
Anytime a vehicle weighs over 10,000 pounds, it’s required to have a commercial vehicle license and be registered with the US Department of Transportation.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that almost everyone of your landscaper trucks, that are pulling a trailer, all of your construction trucks. A lot of them don’t even realize that they are supposed to be registering and getting a DOT number. And, then they have to be following al those same rules which also requires the driver to have a medical examiners report done. They go to their doctor. They get a complete physical. Eyes checked, ears checked, bloodwork, everything to make sure they are okay to be driving a commercial vehicle”
Powers has scales in his vehicle and he can test weights and loads on site. If a dump truck dirt load is higher than its rails, it's in violation unless it's covered with a tarp.
“Part of getting a commercial drivers license is you have to demonstrate that you know how to test and check your brakes. Get under there, measure your brake, adjust them. Do those kinds of things that are necessary that you’re supposed to do. They call it the driver pre-check. Every day before you get in your truck, you’re supposed to be going around your vehicle and making sure everything is in working order. So, they’ve got no excuse when you find them later in the day and lights are out or brakes are not incompliance.”
Last fall, a truck loaded with gravel lost its brakes and crashed through the round-about at the bottom of Marsac Avenue hitting a Dodge pick-up truck. No one was seriously hurt in that incident.