Lieutenant to peers: Enforce traffic laws for commercial vehicles, too

Stop ignoring traffic violations of commercial motor vehicles, a law enforcement officer challenged his Missouri peers during a highway safety and traffic conference in Jefferson City this week.

Lt. Brian Daniel, who works in the field operations bureau of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, asked the officers at Missouri's 2022 Highway Safety and Traffic Conference: How many in the room of roughly 60 people proactively stop commercial vehicles?

Fewer than 10 hands were raised.

Daniels was pleasantly surprised, saying he'd asked the same question earlier this year at a Highway Patrol meeting and had seen even fewer hands in the air.

Daniel's presentation, alongside a talk on the same topic by Aaron Ann Cole-Funfsinn with the National Traffic Law Center, highlighted the lack of traffic enforcement by law enforcement on commercial vehicles, including massive tractor trailers weighing 80,000 pounds.

"Why are we letting these beasts of motor vehicles continue driving, when their traffic violations could be just as significant, if not more so, as a passenger vehicle," Daniel said.

He cited the difficulty a trooper might face in pulling a large vehicle over and a misguided expectation of extra paperwork or technical complications.

But all that's needed to stop commercial vehicles are regular traffic violations, he said.

"I point a finger to myself, too, but the fact is that tractor trailers aren't any different from passenger vehicles," Daniel said.

He asked his audience to encourage their personnel to stop commercial motor vehicles for traffic violations and to stop passenger vehicles who commit violations around them.

He referenced a chain-reaction crash on Interstate 57 in March that left six people dead, a pileup of around 135 vehicles and a crash scene that extended a half-mile long, according to a New York Times report.

Daniel said greater enforcement of commercial vehicle rules might have mitigated the scope of the crash, since multiple semi trucks were involved in the pileup and even caught fire.

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Experts discuss solutions to Missouri’s poor highway safety record