California Steps Up Enforcement

Truckers running through California should look for beefed-up enforcement over the next several months and round-the-clock operations at state inspection stations.

The California Highway Patrol began an 18-month enforcement and public awareness campaign in January designed to reduce truck-at-fault collisions by 5 percent. Plus, California’s governor has asked for a significant boost in the CHP’s budget for fiscal year 2002-2003, including 300 new officers, half of whom would staff the CHP’s 16 commercial vehicle inspection stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The enforcement campaign resulted from a state Office of Traffic Safety grant that will pay for nearly 23,000 hours of overtime for CHP officers who will target truckers who speed, drive under the influence, follow to closely, make unsafe lane changes or commit other violations.

“Truck-at-fault collisions are the result of poor driving,” CHP commissioner D.O. “Spike” Helmick said in a statement announcing the grant. “We are working with the trucking industry to target the minority of commercial drivers who violate basic traffic safety laws.”

The CHP conducted a similar enforcement program last summer following a series of high-profile fatal crashes involving heavy trucks. Using unmarked cars and aircraft, officers cited more than 3,000 truck drivers and motorists for speeding or other violations.

Readers of this magazine say California already has the most vigorous enforcement efforts, according to a Truckers News survey last year. But truckers within the state are supporting the effort.

“They have our support,” said Warren Hoemann, vice president of public affairs of the California Trucking Association. “They specifically asked us if they could quote our support and we said ‘absolutely, they can.'”

The beefed up funding proposed by the governor primarily addresses state security concerns. “With these budget proposals, Gov. Davis is giving the CHP the officers and equipment we need to keep California as safe as possible from terrorism,” Helmick said.