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W. Homestead police bring back commercial vehicle inspections

| Friday, April 19, 2013, 5:03 p.m.
AARON LOUGHNER | DAILY NEWS
West Homestead police Officer Dan Kinzel inspects a truck pulled over for a tri axle lift position violation.
AARON LOUGHNER | DAILY NEWS
West Homestead police Sgt. Jim Ciocco pulls over a dump truck for an axle lift position violation.
AARON LOUGHNER | DAILY NEWS
West Homestead police Officer Jim Wintruba instructs a truck driver on where to park on portable scales in order to check the weight of the vehicle's load.

West Homestead Police Department has brought back its Motor Carrier Safety Awareness Program.

Officers Jim Wintruba, Dan Kinzel and Sgt. Jim Ciocco weighed and inspected commercial trucks along Eighth Avenue on Thursday.

Ciocco said that, of the seven vehicles they stopped, officers found three were overloaded and six had safety violations.

Ciocco said the program was reinstituted after several years because police were hearing concerns about the safety of large commercial vehicles on borough roads.

“We've been getting a lot of calls into the station and into the 911 center,” he said.

Officers were looking for trucks with the lift axle in the “up” position.

“The axle is required to be down in full contact with the ground any time (there is) a load on the vehicle,” Wintruba said. “Case law tells us that the load on the vehicle is equal to two-thirds of the gross vehicle weight. We bring scales to weigh (the vehicle) to see if (it is) over two-thirds of his gross vehicle weight. That way, we're proving (the driver) should have had the axles down.”

“Size and weight are generally a citation to the drivers,” Ciocco said. “A citation for safety issues can be given to the drivers or the companies, or both. I generally ticket companies in instances where the violations were brought to their attention and never addressed, or when the violations should be obvious to them.”

He said West Homestead police had a MCSAP detail on April 4.

“We stopped nine vehicles,” Ciocco said. “We got four for being overweight. One guy was a suspended driver. We issued four warnings.”

No trucks had to be taken out of service.

“It's amazing how many violations there are that a lay person would never know,” Kinzel said. “It's a safety issue.”

He said trucks are made to haul up to a specific weight, and the vehicle's operation is affected if it is over that limit.

Ciocco did inspections for West Homestead police in the early 2000s.

“In the three or four years that I did it, I probably did about 50 inspections per year,” he said. “Out of that, there were probably half that we had to put out of service.”

West Homestead officers used Steel Valley Council of Governments Community Traffic Enforcement Program van and scales.

West Homestead, Braddock Hills, Clairton, Munhall and West Mifflin each paid a share to purchase the truck scales through the COG.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com.

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