More than one in five commercial trucks inspected by the Arkansas Highway Police had violations severe enough for authorities to pull them off the road pending repairs during International Roadcheck 2016, 72 hours dedicated to roadside inspections for commercial vehicles, according to the state Highway and Transportation Department.
Police across the state randomly inspected 637 trucks between Tuesday and Friday morning, and they took 149 vehicles out of service. The most common reason police pulled trucks off the road was brake problems, department spokesman Danny Straessle said.
Officers also pulled 67 drivers out of service, including one who was cited on suspicion of drinking and driving. Others were cited for not updating their logbooks or for driving too long.
The rate of vehicle violations is similar to last year's inspection results, when officers pulled 168 trucks out of service from the 619 they inspected. But the number of drivers taken out of service increased by more than 50 percent from the 43 drivers taken out of service last year.
Straessle said most Arkansas carriers have good safety records because problems can lead to fewer trucks on the road and cut into profits.
"But there's always the out-of-state driver that comes through or the single owner-operator that's maybe trying to cut corners to make ends meet," he said. "That's the exception rather than the rule."
David O'Neal, director of safety services at the Arkansas Trucking Association, said that although one violation is too many, the top-line numbers don't account for the violations' severity.
Over the past generation, the trucking industry has undergone a "sea change" in safety standards, he said. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of trucks involved in fatal accidents dropped by 17 percent, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.