Personal Injury

Police reduce commercial vehicle crashes around Savannah ports

Police in Garden City, Georgia are ramping up efforts to make sure commercial truck drivers drive safely and follow the rules, and their efforts are paying off for everyone.

As home to a major port facility, Garden City and the larger Savannah area are transected by heavily traveled roads and interstates. Every day, thousands of commercial tractor trailers head toward the port and back again, hauling cargo to distribution centers around the country. With so much activity on the highways to and through Garden City, safe driving is absolutely critical.

Police officer Larry Middleton parks his cruiser near a busy Garden City intersection to monitor tractor trailers heading to the port. According to the Savannah Morning News, Middleton and his fellow Garden City officers are trained to inspect commercial vehicles for regulatory violations and anything else that may pose a danger to themselves and other motorists.

“I’m not out there trying to give these guys a hard time – I just want them to be safe,” Officer Middleton told the Savannah Morning News.

“My biggest thing is safety: These guys drive big trucks, and they’re heavyweight,” Middleton said. “Unsafe vehicles are a threat to my family, your family and even other truck drivers’ families.”

Numbers provided by the Garden City police show that the efforts to boost safety are clearly paying off.

According to the Morning News, Garden City police reported about 200 vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, however, the number of commercial vehicle crashes dropped to 127.

Garden City police Capt. Gilbert Ballard said he attributed the 40-percent drop to special training and licensing officers to conduct commercial vehicle inspections that include checks on vehicle maintenance, brake condition, fire extinguishing equipment, and more. The police force’s efforts to drive down the number of commercial vehicle crashes led to special recognition from the state of Georgia for its initiative.

Last December, a logging truck was making a turn in Garden City when its load of lumber broke free, crushing a nearby pedestrian. Police discovered the truck involved had 24 safety violations, including one that likely would have prevented the cargo from becoming unhitched.

Garden City Sgt. Shawn Myers told the Savannah Morning News that the most common excuse truckers offer for driving unsafely is money.

“A lot of the excuses they hear — especially if they don’t own the vehicle and are working for a company and they’re being told to deliver a load — they need a paycheck,” Myers told the Morning News. “They’re willing to risk or just hope they don’t get caught or not get in a car accident.”

“They’ll tell you they’re willing to take the risk because they need the money.”