State police conduct mandatory inspections on trucks, buses

PRINCE WILLIAM, VA (WWBT) - Exactly one week after a deadly tour bus crash in Caroline County, Virginia State Police announce a mandatory inspection checkpoints at Virginia weigh stations.

Four women were killed in the crash caused by a Sky Express bus driver who admitted to falling asleep seconds before the bus veered off the road and flipped.

Colonial Steven Flaherty, the superintendent for Virginia State Police said a statewide commercial vehicle statewide checkpoint was scheduled before the crash. But because of that crash, police gave NBC12 access to the thorough inspections.

State police joined with several national organizations to announce the inspection crackdown during a press conference at a weigh station along Interstate-95, just north of Quantico.

"It was the worst kind of crash," said Colonial Steven Flaherty. "It was the worst kind of crash in terms of the tragedy. But it was also the worst kind of crash in terms that is was very preventable."

Five dozen state troopers who are dedicated to motor carrier safety look over the entire vehicle and check to make sure each driver is licensed and physically able to drive.

For 72 hours, starting Tuesday morning, the troopers will conduct level one inspections which state police describe as the most thorough checks of tractor trailers, moving trucks and tour buses.

"Consider this your first and your only warning," said Flaherty.

"It's not equipment violations we're finding, not like we used to. It's more driver problems," said Sergeant Terry Licklider as he surveyed a parked D.C. Trails tour bus.

Bus driver Ray Centeno got the green light, moments after Licklider's inspection.

"They come to our shop all the time and inspect our buses before they even go on out," said Centeno. From behind the wheel, Centeno said he knows some passengers are concerned about safety after the recent crash.

But state police say these checkpoints work. Last year, the state inspected 38,200 commercial vehicles; 19% of them, 7,000, were pulled off the road.

The president of the American Bus Association offered his support of the checks. He hopes they help restore consumer confidence.

"In recent months, actions of a few have tarnished the industry," said Peter Pantuso. "And our sterling safety record."

State police do these checks all the time, but over the next 72 hours, all 62 motor carrier safety officers will be working Virginia weigh stations.

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