WSP making sure truck drivers are keeping safe

GRANDVIEW, Wash. - It's about making the highways safer. It's called Operation Safe Driver. It's a one-week emphasis program to target big rigs and the drivers behind the wheel.

It's a big truck and a big responsibility. That's why WSP wants to make sure every driver is compliant.

Bill Derryberry has been a trucker on and off for 30 years. He agrees inspections are important.

"It doesn't take very long at all to burn your brakes out going down a big mountain and that's what these guys are for is to make sure everything is going right," said Bill.

Bill's rig was checked by troopers in Grandview this week. An extra set of eyes caught something Bill could've missed.

"Being behind the truck from the outside of the truck you can't hear air leaking," said Bill.

It wasn't something to get a ticket for, but something he'll want to fix. During a one-week period, a team of troopers turns their sole focus to truckers and their rigs.

KIMA looked at the violations written in Yakima and Benton County during Operation Safe Driver. Driver violations jumped this year by two-thirds. These include speeding or driving without a license. Violations found on trucks were cut nearly in half.

WSP told KIMA there were more driver violations this year compared to last year because commercial officers focused more on driver related issues. That includes making sure licenses aren't expired and drivers are getting enough rest."

"That's when we get accidents happening is drivers that fall asleep behind the wheels," said WSP Commercial Vehicle Officer Garland Sponburgh.

Bill knows these rules are part of being a trucker.

"You're supposed to check your truck every day and things slip up," said Bill.

More than 200 big rigs were inspected during this year's Operation Safe Driver. About the same number of officers were used to keep enforcement consistent.