Ohio, Pa. to target truck accidents

HUBBARD TOWNSHIP – With smiles and a handshake, state troopers from Ohio and Pennsylvania met at the border Wednesday morning to kick off a collaborative effort they said will focus on preventing commercial vehicle crashes along Interstate 80.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Marvin Hill said the patrol and Pennsylvania State Police each have commercial enforcement sections that will work side-by-side to identify obvious violations and enforce laws pertaining to commercial vehicles as part of a Commercial Safety-Enforcement Detail.

“We both have east and westbound traffic that crosses the border all the time. At one point, they will see the same vehicles we see and we will see the same vehicles they see,” Hill said.

PSP Cpl. James Willochell said two major areas of concern are speeding and vehicles following each other too closely.

“Commercial motor vehicles weigh up to and over 80,000 pounds,” Willochell said. ”If they’re not obeying traffic laws, they can cause some serious damage if they happen to crash. So, we’re out here for their safety and all motorists’ safety.”

Troopers said that moving at 65 mph, vehicles travel approximately 95 feet a second. In three seconds, a vehicle travels almost the length of a football field. With the three-quarters of a second that it takes to perceive a hazard and another three-quarters of a second to react, the vehicle would cover 142 feet before brakes were applied.

There is no time for drivers to stop before rear-ending vehicles that they are following too closely, troopers said.

In Ohio, the Motor Carrier Enforcement Unit’s primary function is to ensure the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles within the state. Hill said the goal is achieved through education and enforcement of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and PUCO Safety Rules.

Commercial motor vehicle troopers and motor carrier enforcement inspectors conduct inspections of the vehicles. The unit is also responsible for enforcing size and weight laws related to commercial vehicles.

“We will also be working together. We are all federally certified. We all have the same responsibilities as far as commercial safety and enforcing commercial violations. Basically, we’re teaming up,” Hill said.

Hill and Willochell explained that the Commercial Safety-Enforcement Detail will be incorporated into regular schedules, so it will not cost either side additional money, such as for overtime.

Hill said similar partnerships have been forged in the past between the two states. He said the success of the program will be marked by fewer crashes.

“It’s the right time right now to get started. This time of year we know warmer weather is on its way, which increases traffic. With more traffic we generally see more crashes. A big part of this is education, awareness and enforcement.

”The big part for commercial drivers, all motorists, is to obey the laws. Don’t violate them and drive safely,” Hill said.