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Pa. state police take over all truck inspection duties

The Associated Press

Pittsburgh - State Police are assuming full responsibility for truck safety inspections, a duty that had been shared with the state Department of Transportation.

PennDOT specialists have been transferred to the state police department since January, boosting the number of certified state police truck inspectors from 262 to 322. By transferring the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program to the state police, PennDOT freed $3.7 million in its 2005-06 budget to spend on road and bridge improvements.

"The governor's office brought everybody together and said we can make motor carrier safety more singular, more effective," said Lt. Tom McDaniel, commander of the state police's commercial vehicle safety section.

State police have also been adding equipment, unmarked vehicles and programs to improve safety in the state's fourth largest industry. More than 400,000 people possess commercial driver's licenses.

An industry group said the consolidation means more uniformity in inspections.

"As an organization, we're as concerned about safety as everyone else," said Jim Runk, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. "At first, we were a little concerned (about the PennDOT transfer). But things are working out well."

Don Siekerman, the association's safety director, said PennDOT's inspectors have long worked in tandem with state police. But he welcomed the changed. "Everyone is being trained under the same roof. There's more uniformity in truck-law enforcement now."

The state police recently showed off new equipment to the association and discussed benefits of the consolidation.

Newly marked truck-law enforcement vans are equipped with portable police radios, mobile computers, automated vehicle locators, emergency equipment for incident management and other tools.

Truck-law enforcement partnerships are also being expanded and offered to municipal police departments. And programs such as waste hauler inspections and holiday security awareness details are being used to enhance homeland security and demonstrate to truckers that they must comply with state and federal regulations when traveling in Pennsylvania.

Truckers also face scrutiny from the state Public Utility Commission, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and local police.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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