Have you ever been driving down the highway and a big truck pulled up so close to your back bumper that you thought they were going to push you off the road? Or you got behind a dump truck that doesn't have a cover over its load and rocks or dirt are spilling out the back and smacking into your car?
Commercial vehicle enforcement officers say most trucking companies have safe trucks and drivers, but not all of them. There are enough dangerous trucks and drivers on the highways that crisscross the St. Louis area that officers will tell you they get nervous driving alongside an 18-wheeler and when they're driving with their own families they always give trucks lots of room.
The Missouri Legislature just passed new rules for truckers in Missouri that are designed to make the state's highways safer. If the bill is signed by Governor Matt Blunt, among other things, it will prohibit trucks from using the left lane on highways with three or more lanes. And the new legislation will require that drivers must be able to read, write and speak English to get a Missouri Commercial drivers license. State Representative and Transportation Committee chairman Neal St. Onge explains the legislation further in this interview.
Saturdays are an especially dangerous time on I-44 in St. Louis. The St. Louis Police Department's Commercial Vehicle Enforcement officers regularly see trucks carrying produce from California farms racing to get to the east coast by Monday morning. By the time they hit St. Louis, many have been driving 30 hours or more without any rest. That's far beyond the limit set by federal law and officers point out that a drowsy driver is as dangerous as a drunk driver.
Officers encourage motorists to report dangerous drivers or big rigs that could be putting other motorists at risk because of something like rocks falling off or a load that's not tied down properly and is falling off a truck. On highways in Illinois or in the city of St. Louis, you should call 911 and on Missouri Highways call the Missouri Highway Patrol at *55. If you write down the DOT number that's on the side of a truck, you can look up that truck's individual inspection record or you can check on all of a company's trucks by searching for the business name at this Department of Transportation website.