PSC Transportation Officers focus on brake safety

CHARLESTON, WV – Ever wonder how safe those big semis are when they whiz by you on the road? So does the Public Service Commission of West Virginia as thousands of big trucks cross state thoroughfares daily.

Checking against bad brakes on big trucks and buses will be aim of the crack highways enforcement team of PSC during Brake Safety Week, which runs Aug. 20-26.

Special emphasis this year is aimed at inspections along Interstate 81 in Berkeley County, but teams of the PSC’s Transportation commercial vehicle enforcement section also will be at work on I-64 at Winfield in Putnam County and on I-77 at Mineral Wells in Wood County.

“We will be preforming level-one inspections on commercial motor vehicles during Brake Safety Week,” said Sgt. A.W. Ryan of the enforcement section. This is an extensive inspection process utilizing Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s 37-step inspection guidance, beginning with the driver’s credentials and hours of service for compliance. Then the real work begins. “We crawl under the truck to inspect the vehicle for mechanical defects of any kind, putting an emphasis on the brakes to make sure they are in proper working order,” Ryan said.

The inspections can take up to an hour to complete, said the Hinton native, who soon will mark his 20th anniversary with the PSC.

The West Virginia program is part of a national effort of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, based in Washington, D.C. Emphasis is on brake lining/pad violations. Trucks with faulty equipment are sidelined until those defects are corrected.

The goal is to reduce the number of highway crashes and to educate drivers, mechanics, owner-operators and others on the importance of proper brake inspection, maintenance and operation.

“I have been out with these dedicated inspectors,” PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said. “I’ve donned the smock and gone under the vehicles. The work they do is essential to highway safety in West Virginia.”

Last year, state inspectors examined 342 vehicles during this same week period and placed 22 out of service for brake-related violations. Nationally, 38,117 inspections were conducted last year and 13.3 percent of those examined were placed out of service for brake-related violations.