State Patrol keeping highways safe one roadcheck at a time

By: Jenny You, Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Jenny You, Lindsay Veremis Email
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A statewide effort to prevent large-truck crashes kicks off Tuesday.

A State Patrol trooper chases a speeder on I-94.

MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Wisconsin State Patrol is ramping its inspection to prevent large-truck crashes as part of an international campaign.

The Roadcheck Campaign goes through Thursday for the United States, Canada and Mexico. It's a 72 hour campaign where State Patrol inspectors will check to make sure semi-trucks and buses are in working order.

Troopers said last year during the Roadcheck period, there were more than 950 inspections and 4000 safety violations. As a result, 224 vehicles and 63 drivers were declared out of service until the violations were corrected.

“These vehicles are extremely large, an excess of 80,000 pounds, sometimes even a 100,000 pounds,” said inspector Dan Gruebele with the Wisconsin State Patrol. “So making sure that their steering components, tires and brakes are safe is very important to everyone that travels on the same highways that they do.”

Around 1400 to 2000 commercial vehicles come through the weight station every day. Greg Forsell has been driving his semi-tanker trunk on the road since last November and for first time on Tuesday, his truck has been randomly inspected.

“Right now, I left Jim Falls, Wisconsin. I’m heading to New Ulm, Minnesota to pick up a little milk,” said Forsell. “The inspector inspects it to make sure it’s safe and you're not a hazard on the road to everyone else,” he said.

The inspectors have the driver rock the steering wheel back and forth, push the brake pedal and check air pressure among other procedures.

Gruebele said safety violations are common but not as bad as it used to be.

“We have experienced crashes over the last several years where brakes have failed and that has caused a severe crash,” said Gruebele. “It’s really to bring awareness to highway safety and traffic safety for the commercial motor vehicle industry.”

Inspector Gruebele also said truck drivers deserve a big thank you because companies work hard to keep the highway safe too.

The Roadcheck Campaign continues through Thursday. Roadcheck is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

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A statewide effort to prevent large-truck crashes and to identify dangerous or fatigued commercial drivers kicks off Tuesday.

It comes after two recent commercial vehicle crashes in Western Wisconsin that impacted I-94 near Eau Claire.

Just last week a FedEx truck smashed into a guardrail sending a trailer up in flames. It happened overnight in a construction zone. In that same area, in late April, two semi trucks crashed. One plunged off an overpass.

During the "Roadcheck Campaign" Tuesday through Thursday, the Wisconsin State Patrol will intensify compliance checks with all commercial motor vehicle drivers. Troopers will be looking over equipment, seeing if drivers are buckling up and trying to remove unsafe drivers from the road.

Last year, the State Patrol conducted more than 950 inspections and found 4,000 safety violations. Troopers pulled 63 drivers off the road and 224 vehicles until violations could be corrected.


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