State, Local Enforcement Effort Focuses on Commercial Vehicles in So. Md.

LA PLATA, Md. (March 30, 2009) - A cooperative enforcement effort between state and county enforcement agencies in Southern Maryland focusing on commercial vehicle traffic in the region has resulted in the issuance of hundreds of traffic citations and dozens of vehicles and drivers being placed out of service for safety violations.

"Operation T-CAT (Trucks and Cars Around Trucks) South" was kicked off early last Tuesday morning in Charles and St. Mary's counties. In just two days of enforcement, police issued 203 traffic citations and 209 warnings.

Commercial vehicle inspectors conducted more than 250 inspections. They placed 68 commercial vehicles and 21 drivers out of service for a variety of safety and vehicle law violations. Violations involving drivers placed out of service ranged from not having a commercial driver's license, to driving on a suspended license, and to drug possession.

Joining the Maryland State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division in this effort were troopers from the La Plata Barracks, as well as deputies from the Charles County Sheriff's Office and personnel from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Comptroller's Office. The enforcement operation was interrupted Thursday due to inclement weather, but resumed Friday.

Operation T-CAT South is conducting enforcement on roads other than interstates or routes in metropolitan areas. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently noted that more collisions involving commercial vehicles are occurring on rural and suburban roads. Police say they are also responding to citizen complaints in the region.

Trucks are being weighed, driver's log books are being reviewed, vehicle equipment is being thoroughly inspected, and cargo is being checked to ensure it is properly secured and is accurately noted on shipping papers. Inspectors are using special equipment to check diesel exhaust emissions.

Police are not only looking for commercial vehicle violations. They are also observing the behavior of automobile drivers in the vicinity of commercial vehicles. Many crashes involving commercial vehicles are caused by automobile drivers who cut off commercial vehicles, follow them too closely, or ride in their blind spots. Deputies from the Charles County Sheriff's Office Traffic Operations Section worked with troopers and conducting speed and other traffic law enforcement as part of this operation.

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