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September 8, 2013
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Thousands of trucks undergo annual checks in Dotsero

DOTSERO — Colorado State Patrol troopers crawled under, over and around almost 3,000 trucks during their annual safety checks last week.

They found the darndest things. One 18-wheeler had a message stenciled on the back of the cab, “If you can read this, I’ve lost my trailer.”

The safety checks are designed to help keep the roads safe, and most of the time everyone gets along, said Don Kettle, a trooper with the Colorado State Patrol’s Motor Carrier Safety Division.

“Most drivers are OK,” Kettle said. “We have a job to do and so do they. The better we work together the better it goes.”

Colorado’s chain law requires commercial vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds to carry tire chains from Sept. 1 through May 31.

The Motor Carrier Safety Division has 24 troopers, and most spent three days in Dotsero this week. In those three days, they inspected more than 2,000 trucks. Last week in Vail, they worked just the eastbound lane and inspected 750 trucks, Kettle said.

“People have no idea how much truck traffic runs on this highway,” Kettle said, looking at Interstate 70 a few yards away.

Any truck and trailer combination that weighs more than 10,000 pounds was supposed to stop. A big Dodge dual-wheeled pickup truck pulling a massive dump trailer rolled right on by the stop. A state trooper set off after him to have a quick chat about reading signs and how some quick math would have made it pretty obvious to the driver that he was supposed to stop.

There’s a fine for failing to stop for an inspection. There’s a $69 fine for failing to carry tire chains during the winter. If you get stuck on Vail Pass because you didn’t chain up, it’s a $500 fine.

If you do have to buy chains on Vail Pass, local capitalists have been know to charge $350 for a set.

They’re around $100 for a set if you buy them online.

Most pass inspection

Trooper Brad Latchaw said most truckers meet all the criteria. About 10 percent have some problem with load securing or equipment, such as brakes being out of adjustment. A few spent some quality time in Dotsero because they’d been on the road too long, Kettle said.

As it turns out, drivers of tractor-trailer rigs are limited in the amount of time they can spend on the road in a stretch. It used to be easier to push those limits because the drivers kept their own log books. In certain circles, the pages of those log books became known as swindle sheets.

Now, though, technology has removed much of the worry about keeping those logs. A counter attached to the wheels keeps track of how long those wheels have been in motion.

“No one needs drivers falling asleep and causing accidents. Avoiding that is why those regulations exist,” Kettle said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

“Most drivers are OK,” Kettle said. “We have a job to do and so do they. The better we work together the better it goes.”


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The VailDaily Updated Sep 9, 2013 09:36AM Published Sep 9, 2013 12:41PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.