Are semi trucks on SC roads safe? - FOX Carolina 21

Are semi trucks on SC roads safe?

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Tractor trailers line up for inspection. (File/FOX Carolina) Tractor trailers line up for inspection. (File/FOX Carolina)

Almost everything you buy at a store gets there by a tractor-trailer.

But those 80,000 pound vehicles on the road make some drivers nervous as the average car weighs just 5,000 pounds.

More than 100 State Transport Police officers patrol South Carolina roads.

It's the officers' job to get commercial vehicles such as buses and semis that are not up to code off the road.

'We want to shut down any unsafe vehicles or drivers before they are back on the road, before they endanger anybody," said Officer Dean Dill with the State Transport Police.

State Transport Police spokesperson Corporal Mike Still said truck drivers can receive citations for a variety of reasons, including bad tires or brakes, a semi carrying too big of a load or if the driver has spent too many hours behind the wheel.

"If an officer finds a violation on a truck that places them out of service, the truck is shut down right where they are, or an officer escorts them to some place safe where they can get the violations repaired before they go back on the road," said Still.

Still said if there's a driver shutdown that means the driver is required to get a certain amount of time off the road to rest.

According to State Transport Police statistics, officers inspected nearly 52,000 commercial vehicles last year. Thirty-five percent of all inspections resulted in citations last year, down from 41 percent in 2010.

Commercial vehicle crashes have been going down since 2010, from 2,579 to 2,265 in 2011. But deaths resulting from commercial vehicle crashes were up from 2010. There were 77 fatalities in 2010 and 86 last year.

Van Swafford owns Swafford Transport & Warehouse, a trucking company based in Greer. He is also a member of the South Carolina Trucking Association.

Swafford said truckers need more help from the state, especially right here in the Upstate, with improving road conditions. 

He said the interstates need more lanes, and roads need to be made wider.

"Our area is only growing more and more," Swafford said. "With that, these trucks, these cars and everybody fighting for the same spot."

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