Heavy duty hazards: Dangerous semis put Indiana drivers at risk

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 8, 2016) – Heavy duty hazards are plaguing Indiana’s roads.  State troopers we talked to estimate one in eight commercial trucks they pull over shouldn’t be on the road.

CBS4 rode along with the Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Division to find out why so many trucks are too dangerous to be on our interstates.  Troopers say the two deadliest problems are distracted driving, and trucks with an insecure load.

“When you make mistakes with a passenger vehicle, just think of that with a commercial vehicle and with the weight of it, around 80 thousand pounds,” said Trooper Rob Hawkins.

Hawkins says the vast majority of the trucks and drivers are safe, but the deadly statistics are still alarming. More than 100 people each year in the last five years in Indiana have been killed in crashes involving a semi.

Sgt. Rich Kelly says half of those crashes involve a distracted truck driver.  We say this for ourselves; it took one driver several miles to notice the troopers behind him because he was on a cell phone.  For Sgt. Kelly, the mission to stop dangerous drivers is personal.

“In 2006 I was on patrol, I had stopped a vehicle on I-65 just south of Clinton county, while I was on the side of the road, I was struck by another commercial motor vehicle,” said Kelly.

After three years of surgeries Sgt. Kelly returned to the force even more determined to pull hazardous truck drivers off the road.

The second deadliest problem is trucks with insecure loads.  In one instance, we could see rocks falling out of a truck Sgt. Kelly pulled over, but this driver claimed ignorance.  We asked him if he walks around his truck before he leaves.

“Uh, not usually,” he said.

When asked if he thought that was safe he responded, “Yeah, I do it all the time.”

Sgt. Kelly says a summons to court will make him think twice next time.

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