State Patrol mobile units check commercial vehicles for safety |

State Patrol mobile units check commercial vehicles for safety

Colorado State Patrol Mobile Unit Supervisor Barbara Watkins talks with a driver at the mobile weigh station and safety inspection set up Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, on the west side of Steamboat Springs. CSP reported various infractions were found throughout the day related to brakes, lights, driver time and driver logs.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Colorado State Patrol Mobile Unit Supervisor Bryan Waltz, sitting inside a hot CSP van with flashing lights on top and computer equipment inside, grimaced as a semi-truck with a yellow trailer zoomed past the mobile weigh station set up Wednesday, Aug. 31, on the west side of Steamboat Springs.

“It’s going pretty fast. It’s out of our scope of authority,” Waltz said, explaining that his mobile unit from the Dumont port of entry is tasked with safety inspections, but cannot chase down commercial drivers who do not stop at the well-marked mobile weigh station.

Supervisor Barbara Watkins said Colorado State Patrol troopers sometimes shadow the inspection stations to catch “port runners.”

“We have quite a few of patrols who like to hang out with us on the side and catch our port runners, and we are thankful for our troopers,” Watkins said.

A friendly driver from Nebraska sitting in an idling pickup truck at the mobile station Wednesday was towing a long trailer with a heavy load of pipes.

“Safety is good,” the driver said, who did not want to give his name. He had been waiting a while for his inspection report but said he expected no violations.

However, CSP Officer Kim Lane said the driver would be surprised because he was going to receive an infraction notice for not keeping his driver’s logs up-to-date.

Supervisor Bryan Waltz, back, and Officer Kim Lane work inside the Colorado State Patrol mobile port of entry inspection unit stationed on the west edge of Steamboat Springs on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Supervisor Watkins explained that long-haul commercial vehicle drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours a day, and those drivers must keep logs to document their time behind the wheel.

The drivers must take a minimum 30-minute break every eight hours of driving. Vehicles are considered commercial if they weigh more than 16,001 pounds, and if a truck and trailer weighs more 26,001 pounds, then the operator must have a commercial driver’s license.

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If drivers try to falsify records, CSP staff can compare that to information they receive via electronic logging devices that are required on commercial vehicles.

CSP maintains nine fixed port of entry inspection stations across the state from Loma to Limon and from Trinidad to Fort Morgan. The department of public safety also has 10 mobile units that travel the state far from fixed entry stations including the units that worked from Craig to Steamboat to Walden four days this week.

“Mobile units travel so they can get to areas where trucks never see a port of entry,” Watkins said.

The hoods of the idling CSP vans were held open with wooden blocks on the hot Wednesday afternoon when the team’s thermometer on a cone on the U.S. Highway 40 blacktop on the west end of Steamboat hit 105 degrees.

Colorado State Patrol sets up a mobile inspection station for commercial vehicles multiple times of year on area highways. They set up west of Steamboat Springs on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today

This week the team conducted 75 inspections across four days in the area and found numerous infractions such as insufficient brakes, non-working turn signals or brake lights, driving too long, falsifying driving logs or not wearing seat belts. One vehicle was found to be 3,000 pounds over maximum allowed weight, Watkins noted.

A driver of a Steamboat business’ dump truck was caught driving on a suspended license due to previous violations, and the vehicle was pulled out of service, Watkins said. That individual was picked up by CSP troopers, and someone else from the company arrived to take the vehicle, Watkins said.

The supervisor said the safety teams also set up the mobile stations at least four times a year east of Craig, near Walden and more often on Rabbit Ears Pass.

“We want to make sure that their brakes are good coming down steep grades and make sure the drivers are not fatigued,” Watkins said of the Rabbit Ears Pass mobile station that is set up about seven times a summer. “We want to make sure the roads are safe for all the motoring public. That’s our job.”

Watkins said most drivers have good intentions, but they may not understand all the commercial driving regulations. So, education is a key component for staff at the mobile weigh stations.

“They don’t always know all the rules, and that’s where we come in. We try to educate them,” Watkins said. “We do make an impact for safety; safety is what we do.”

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