Both the Birmingham News and Raleigh News and Observer are running good series on how lax trucking regulations are damaging highways and endangering motorists in their respective states. The latest Birmingham News piece starts this way:
By the time Julius Blackwell saw the truck coming, it was too late.
He and other workers heard the tires squeal while they were trying to remove a tree from a power line off Alabama 89 in Wilcox County. When they looked up, the big truck loaded with logs had left the road and was barreling toward them. They scattered.
Blackwell didn't make it. He died that morning, just before 10 o'clock on Feb. 10, 2003.
The log truck that killed Blackwell should not have been on the road, troopers learned later. They listed "inefficient braking power" as one of the causes of the accident, and found that the truck should have been pulled off the road sooner because it had suspension problems and bad tires and the driver had a suspended license.
Thousands of big trucks travel Alabama's highways with bad brakes, bad tires and bad drivers, according to a Birmingham News analysis of federal inspection records. Many of those dangerous trucks in recent years have been involved in accidents that have killed hundreds, injured thousands and cost millions in highway repairs.