Thirty-one of 95 commercial vehicles inspected Tuesday as part of a Valleywide crackdown on safety violations were determined unsafe to drive by law enforcement officers.

For seven hours Tuesday, officers from more than a dozen police agencies conducted surprise inspections in Apache Junction at Baseline Road and Ironwood Drive as part of an effort to reduce the number of large-vehiclerelated crashes in the Valley.

The surprise inspections will continue through April 21 throughout the Valley, said Mesa detective Don Moss.

If commercial vehicles have bad brakes, steering problems or any other major safety flaws, citations will be written and, in worst-case scenarios, the trucks will be considered unsafe to drive and parked until they are fixed or towed.

Among those placed out of service Tuesday was a flatbed truck hauling nearly 13,000 pounds more drywall than the truck’s rated capacity, said Scottsdale officer Ken Varichek.

Being so dangerously overloaded could result in a broken suspension system or an inability to stop in time to avoid a crash, Varichek said. Earlier in the day, a hay truck was found to be 50,000 pounds over its legal capacity, said Apache Junction police Sgt. Dick Virgil.

"A lot of times the drivers don’t have a clue. They just drive the trucks," Varichek said. "Ultimately, the driver needs to be standing there when it’s loaded or they need to drive the truck over a scale because he’s the one who may kill someone’s family because he couldn’t stop in time."

Nationally, 31 percent of all commercial vehicles inspected have such serious violations they are put out of service, Moss said.

On Tuesday, inspectors found 362 violations on the 95 vehicles they inspected, Moss said. Nine drivers were pulled off the road for such things as having warrants, suspended driver’s licenses or not having the appropriate class driver’s license, Moss said.

Surprise inspections are done twice a year because many police agencies lack the personnel for such inspections on a daily basis, Moss said.

The cost of repairing a vehicle is far cheaper than paying the fines for violations, Moss said. Each "out of service" violation is $500, and weight-related fines start at $1,400.

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