Sharing the road safely this holiday weekend - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sharing the road safely this holiday weekend


BRANDON (KWWL)-- Millions of people will hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend.  In light of recent truck accidents, KWWL investigates the state of the trucking industry in terms of safety.

Jeff Franzen with the Iowa Department of Transportation runs many random inspections on trucks at the weigh station near Brandon.

"They might have the best looking truck on the road, and it might be brand new," said Franzen, who works as a motor carrier investigator.  "It might be very safe but if the driver behind the wheel is doing something wrong, we'd never know it if we're not checking vehicles that way."

Most trucks pass the inspection, but a substantial number do not.  Every year, close to one in four trucks that are pulled aside for inspection fail safety violations and have to be pulled out of service.

"The majority of those safety violations are usually brake related," Franzen said.

Further,  Franzen adds that one in ten drivers inspected have to be pulled out of service as well, most for logging hours over the federal limit.

Our investigation also looked at the training truckers receive.

Many schools like Kirkwood Community College put their students through vigorous training programs, forcing students to log more than 200 hours before receiving their class A commercial license.

"They'll spend approximately of those four weeks, 80 hours in the classroom and the remaining 145 hours will actually be behind the wheel," said John Carney, the transportation manager at Kirkwood.

Kirkwood's program is one of the older, more respected programs in the state.

But not all trucking programs are created equally.

There is no current federal requirement on minimum number of hours of training drivers must have before receiving a license, meaning some schools are putting drivers on the road with inadequate experience.

"There are also schools less reputable that are in it for making money," Carney said.

In spite of these findings, officials say most truck drivers and most companies are taking many precautions to keep everyone on the road safe.

"The vast majority of trucks out there are trying to do the same job you and I are doing and that's make a living and get home safely every night," Franzen said.

The Department of Transportation will put into effect a ban this holiday weekend, keeping trucks with oversized loads off the roads.

Officials remind motorists that they share responsibility for safety on the roads.  Always allow plenty of cushion between vehicles.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner

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