Maine State Police find safety defects, drugs during commercial vehicle checks

Posted June 07, 2011, at 5:28 a.m.
Last modified June 07, 2011, at 7:03 p.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — Falsified logs, a variety of safety defects and illegal drugs were among the violations uncovered by Maine State Police at commercial vehicle inspection checkpoints around the state Tuesday as Roadcheck 2011 got under way.

The three-day national initiative, which runs through Thursday, is part of a national effort sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance that aims to promote highway safety, according to Lt. Thomas Kelly, who heads up the state police’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit.

While it was too early in this year’s three-day run to be able to provide firm statistics, Kelly said commercial vehicle inspectors around the state uncovered numerous safety problems and log violations.

“These are violations that we expect to find,” Kelly said of the dozens of vehicle defects and similar problems inspectors and troopers typically encounter during the initiative.

An unusual violation caught Tuesday, however, occurred at an Interstate 95 checkpoint in Pittsfield, where police found a truck driver who had opiates aboard his tractor-trailer.

“Not only was he charged [with drug possession], he was definitely put out of service,” Kelly said, adding that because of the drug violation, the driver was subject to a mandatory 24-hour prohibition from driving.

In addition to interstate checkpoints at Kittery, York, Sidney, Pittsfield, Old Town and Houlton, roving patrols are out inspecting vehicles and drivers traveling other Maine roads.

Although state police conduct these inspections throughout the year, the annual Roadcheck event places special emphasis on commercial vehicle inspections to both educate and promote safety.

Kelly said Tuesday that about one-third of all commercial vehicles inspected in Maine each June are free of violations, which he said shows the program is having some impact.

He added, however, that it is “interesting” that violations continue to be found during the yearly Roadcheck events, which are widely publicized and held at the same time every year.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a Maryland-based organization composed of governmental traffic safety officials and industry representatives from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been holding annual Roadcheck events since 1988. To date, more than 1 million vehicles have been inspected.

BDN writer Dawn Gagnon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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