Washington state: Putting the move on moving violations, logs

| November 02, 2016


Washington state logged a 2 percent increase in truck violations in 2015. Nearly all of that increase was seen in the category of moving violations, which Capt. Mike Dahl of the state patrol’s Motor Carrier Safety Division says is the result of a rededication among troopers to targeting behaviors that are more often the cause of accidents.

washington-csa-states-map-bug“It all goes hand in hand with our target of zero fatalities” by 2030, Dahl says, referencing a nationwide push for the ultimate in highway-fatality reduction. As part of that initiative, Dahl asked the state’s crash analysts: “What are the top five things causing our crashes?”

As in other states Overdrive has profiled as part of its CSA’s Data Trail series, the answer included not yielding the right of way, speeding and following too closely – by all vehicles on the road. The Evergreen State has held something of a high profile for its leadership in the TACT (Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks) program by deploying enforcement personnel with truckers themselves to ticket unsafe actions by motorists around trucks.

“We do need to continue to educate, because the cars are doing a lot wrong,” Dahl says.


But in terms of the numbers in this analysis, it’s clear that a focus on truckers’ violations is on the rise. Dahl suggests that will be the case well into the future as “target zero” is emphasized.

Washington has been an established leader in truck inspections; it’s the fifth most-intense continental U.S. state in Overdrive’s CSA’s Data Trail inspection rankings. The 2 percent rise in 2015 violations represents 2,060 violations.


Washington ranks No. 5 nationwide for a high intensity of inspections performed at roadside (48 percent of the time) and in fixed locations (52 percent) by its roughly 200 personnel dedicated to truck enforcement. That’s balanced by a strong record on clean inspections – 41 percent show no violations – that helps owner-operators’ CSA scores; the national average is 41.4 percent. A refocusing of patrolling troopers in 2015 led to a significant boost in the share of moving violations in which truckers were cited.

As for moving violations, one road rumor is undeniably false, Dahl says.

Olympia-based owner-operator Tilden Curl had heard that the state patrol was using its license-plate reading technology – installed at 10 of its 11 fixed facilities around the state (five ports of entry and six interior scales) – to enforce speed limits. If a driver makes the roughly 100 miles between the southern port of entry from Oregon on Interstate 5 to the Nisqually scale too quickly, “they can pull you in and write you a ticket for speeding just based on the time,” Curl says.

Dahl says that’s not the case. His troopers “never use the license-plate readers for speed enforcement,” he says. “I would not support doing that” since there’s a lack of direct evidence of speed at any given time. But when it comes to citing for a false log book based on the evidence of license-plate readers, it’s a different story.

Like its neighbor, Oregon, which records every truck that passes a scale in part for weight-distance tax purposes, Washington captures truck movements in a similar way with its license-plate-reading cameras. “A lot of people don’t believe they track trucks like they do,” says Curl.

As Dahl confirms, such records are used for hours enforcement and shared with states that request them. “We’ve been working closely with our neighbors for a long time for commercial vehicle enforcement,” he says, particularly Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Canadian partners to the north.


Parking needs on Washington State’s radar

If you don’t include three truck stops at the north, south and eastern edges metropolitan Seattle, the area containsonly about 200 to 300 truck parking ...

Overdrive’s CSA’s Data Trail has shown that Oregon, Nevada and nearby Wyoming are among the top 10 states with an intense focus on the log book during inspections. Montana also has appeared in the top 10 in the recent past.

Washington, however, doesn’t seem to reach for one particular area of violation, and Curl credits the state patrol’s inspectors for a balanced approach. His last inspection in Washington, at the Bow Hill port of entry on I-5 south of Bellingham, “was a pretty thorough inspection. They did a thorough job, and they were fair.”

washington-state-violation-profile-2015Curl, a board member for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, much prefers the kind of hours enforcement enabled by the external plate readers Washington employs to the intrusive route the federal government wants to take by mandating electronic logging devices.

Not that plate readers – or ELDs, for that matter – are foolproof by any means. A close friend of Curl’s was about to be ticketed at a scale in Washington for log falsification. He knew something was wrong, however, as his log book was well in order.

He “asked them to pull up a picture of the truck” they were using for assessing the falsification. The record, captured by a plate reader, included a picture of a “truck that was totally a different color” – proof that the plate was a clear misread.

Keep that in mind when traveling the Pacific Northwest.


Find all of the CSA’s Data Trail state profiles via the links below:

North Carolina

North Carolina enforcement: Where officer discretion can help

Professionalism at roadside can go a long way in influencing enforcement actions in North Carolina. The highway patrol there isn't, by and large, "looking to ...

New Mexico

Common ground: New Mexico's inspection-heavy enforcement program

Common ground: New Mexico’s inspection-heavy enforcement program

Capt. Greg Kerr of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s truck-enforcement unit has thoughts about highway safety that truck drivers may find familiar and ...


Credit for clean: ‘Finishing the job’ on violation-free inspections

Mississippi far exceeding all states when it comes to helping truckers by issuing clean inspections. According to state officials, that could change with some more ...


Roadside heat waning in Illinois

Roadside heat waning in Illinois

After a focus on moving violations led to a dramatic climb up Overdrive’s state inspection-intensity rankings in 2014, the Illinois State Police show signs of ...


No breaks for brakes: Virginia State Police lead the nation in brake violation focus

No breaks for brakes: Virginia State Police lead the nation in brake violation focus

The latest in Overdrive's CSA's Data Trail series: A no-frills approach to inspections also puts this state near the top for maintenance violations overall.


No mercy: Arizona ground zero for truck enforcement

No mercy: Arizona ground zero for truck enforcement

With a high rate of both inspections and violations, and a top ten ranking for hours enforcement, this state is ground zero for tough inspections ...


The new top hours of service enforcer

No state issued a higher percentage of hours violations in 2014 than this one. Training has helped officials find their ‘comfort zone’ enforcing the ever-shifting ...


Wisconsin: Targeting enforcement for violations

Wisconsin: Targeting enforcement for violations

Only one state does it better -- or in many truckers' perspectives, worse -- than Wisconsin. With more than 3 violations written for every inspection ...


The Golden State: Inspection fanatic or truckers' best friend?

The Golden State: Inspection fanatic or truckers’ best friend?

California's reputation as being tough on truckers continues with its No. 2 position in the inspection intensity rankings. At once, the Golden State near highest ...


Decreasing inspections: Georgia's numbers fall

Decreasing inspections: Georgia’s numbers fall

The state dialed back on overall inspections from 81,183 in 2013 to 69,188 in 2014, a 15 percent decline. According to state officials, such a ...


Light-sensitive: Ohio the No. 1 state for light violations

Lights can go out when you’re running, but some drivers contend "a lot of these lights are off before the trip starts.” If you don’t ...


Best way to avoid inspection in Indiana: Slow down

Best way to avoid inspection in Indiana: Slow down

With speeding accounting for nearly half of all moving-type infractions marked on inspection reports in 2013, Indiana ranks first in the nation for those violations.


Oregon: An edge on hours

The state of Oregon is known among owner-operators for more than its scenic mountain passes and rocky coast: Oregon’s weight-distance tax data sharpens its focus ...


Don’t mess with Texas: No. 1 for maintenance violations

If you’re running through the Lone Star State, don’t skimp on pre-trip inspections. No other state issues a higher percentage of maintenance violations.


Finding fault: Where inspections are toughest

Finding fault: Where inspections are toughest

This month in the Standout States series we look at Connecticut, which might get the most proverbial "bang" for its inspection buck with the highest ...


Close scrutiny: Pennsylvania rises up the inspection-intensity ranks

Close scrutiny: Pennsylvania rises up the inspection-intensity ranks

Pennsylvania's enforcement program might be the most mobile in the nation -- the No. 2 state for inspection intensity in 2013, the state conducts the ...


Close scrutiny: Where are you most likely to be inspected?

Close scrutiny: Where are you most likely to be inspected?

That distinction goes to Maryland, followed by Pennsylvania -- while both are heavy on inspections, their rate of issuing violations falls below the national average. ...

There are 7 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *