How Safe Are Semis?

Think of how many semi trucks you pass every day. As many as three out of every ten of those are not legally safe enough to be on the roads.

A Texoma trucker reached out to Newschannel 6 with concerns of the condition of big rigs on the roadways.

We obtained pictures from that trucker.

They expose some serious problems, problems the Department of Public Safety says are no surprise.

"I worry about it. Let's face it, those trucks weigh 80,000lbs. It's nothing for a truck to roll over on a car and kill everybody in it," Mark Myer said.

Trucking has been Myer's way of life for more than 20 years, but, in the last few months, he said the condition of the semis he was assigned to had been going downhill.

"Safety is a big concern on these trucks. They're very dangerous. I know when you're driving down the road in your car you probably don't think too much about it," Myer said.

You can see here in photos obtained by Newschannel 6 cracked and rusted frames, worn- cracked tires and outdated registration.

Myer claims these are just a few of the problems he was faced with.

"I had one trailer got stopped in Oklahoma 6 months ago with and the annual inspection was 19 years out of date," Myer said.

For more than a year, Myer had been driving for Central Freight Lines out of Wichita Falls.

He claims he would write up problems with trucks for months, and still nothing would be fixed.

"It didn't make me feel good at all. I've got a lot of ethics as far as this stuff is concerned. I don't like driving equipment that's unsafe. I don't like putting my family or somebody else's family in danger," he said.

A ticket he got in April shows the several violations on Myer's Central Freight Line truck.

Here's the scary reality, we showed these pictures to DPS Sgt. Robert Wilson who said this is not uncommon.

"Out of ten trucks you could probably find those types of violation on seven of them," Sgt. Wilson said.

We've all seen the shredded tires along the sides of the highways, Sgt. Wilson says with the thousands of miles these trucks travel in such a short time, tires are one of the biggest concerns.

Myer agrees, while a blown tire may not cause too big of an issue for the trucker, he fears more for the rest of us on the road.

"These things have extreme force when they blow it goes off like a cannon basically. If you blow a steer tire, the front end of your truck is made out of fiberglass, it can rip portions of the truck and throw them places. If a car gets hit by a piece of one of those tires, I've seen them break windshields, I've seen them rip the a pillar out that holds the windshield in. It's very dangerous, people can get hurt really bad," he said.

There are only three DPS troopers in our area to monitor the thousands of trucks going through Texoma each day.

We caught up with one trooper as he conducted a level 2 road-side inspection.

They do as many of those as they can on a daily basis and conduct level one inspections which are much more intense, several times a month.

During a three day crackdown earlier this month, Sgt. Wilson says 20 percent of the trucks they inspected were put out of service.

That means they are required to be repaired before being operated again.

But how do law enforcement know the problems are being fixed?

"The lack of personnel that we have it's on an honor system. But there is a series of checks and balances that are used because anytime those violations are found they have to be recorded by the company and sent to Austin. We also do in-house audits of company's called compliance reviews," Sgt. Wilson said.

He said some trucking companies refuse to follow regulations, while others are very proactive.

He stresses, keeping the roads safe are up to everyone involved.

"The motor carry is the one who is responsible for any vehicle that goes out of his yard or business and that responsibility is shared with the driver because he's the one who knows if vehicle is safe to operate or not. Do it's dependent on them and if they pull out and think it is and we stop them and say it's not then that's where the checks and balances comes in," Sgt. Wilson said.

Myer said on several occasions he refused to drive the big rigs.

"I had to do it because of the fact that if we didn't they told us if we didn't we'd lose our jobs. Truck driving jobs are very scarce in this area," he said.

Myer said he was laid off from Central Freight Lines on June 11th.

Even though he is no longer behind the wheel of a semi, he says he still has to share the road.

"My family rides up and down this road, I'm sure your family does too and these safety laws are there so we don't get hurt," Myer said.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Central Freight Lines has a satisfactory rating.

While 21.3 percent of their trucks are out of service, that's still below the national average.

We tried to contact Central Freight Line's safety department several times, but never got any response.

One thing all motorists should remember when driving near commercial trucks is to keep a safe distance away and be aware of blind spots.  If you can't see their mirrors, they can't see you.

Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6