1 in 4 Trucks in North Dakota Oil Country Unfit for Road

August 25, 2011

As many as one in four trucks driving in northwestern North Dakota’s booming oil country are unsafe enough to be put out of service, an inspection effort shows.

The state Highway Patrol and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently conducted a three-day inspection effort in Mountrail and Williams counties, and 57 of the 224 vehicles inspected had equipment problems that deemed them unfit for the road. Violations ranged from cracked vehicle frames to improperly working brakes, Patrol Lt. Kyle Kirchmeier told The Dickinson Press.

“We were hoping there weren’t that many violations,” he said. “The high volume of traffic is going 24/7 in the area, so the condition of the equipment is obviously a concern for safety with us.”

Most of the vehicles were oil field-related traffic and not farm vehicles. In addition to the equipment violations, there were 26 vehicles found to be exceeding legal weight limits, as well as five drivers who were removed from behind the wheel for driving violations.

Dunn County Sheriff Don Rockvoy, who worked in the trucking industry for 10 years, was alarmed by the results.

“The equipment thing is something that shouldn’t be that high,” he said. “The owners and drivers need to be doing daily inspections. They should have checked more closely because it is a safety concern for the drivers and the public.”

Clarence Tuhy, sheriff in Stark County, another oil patch county, said overloaded trucks are costing the general public.

“If these companies or drivers are running in excess (of load limits) they are causing damage to the roads, which are paid for by the county and the taxpayers,” he said.

The Highway Patrol plans more crackdowns on illegal trucks, Kirchmeier said.

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