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According to the Ohio Department of Safety, there were 287,050 crashes in the state in 2012, with 1,122 persons killed—an increase over the 1,016 fatalities reported in 2011. Of those crashes, over 21,000 involved commercial vehicles.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation states similar numbers for Pennsylvania in 2012—over 124,000 total crashes, and 1,310 fatalities. Of those, over 7,000 involved heavy trucks or commercial vehicles.

Now, according to CBS News, Ohio and Pennsylvania state troopers are trying to reduce those numbers by cracking down on violations committed by commercial drivers. They hope the effort will remind drivers of large vehicles to be extra careful on the road.

Ohio and Pennsylvania Coordinating Efforts

The main focus of the new enforcement efforts will be Interstate 80. As recently as the first week of April 2014, a semi truck accident stopped traffic for most of the day. News reports indicated the accident happened in the eastbound lane, near Hubbard Township. About a mile before a construction zone, a semi behind an SUV allegedly failed to stop, striking the SUV, which was then propelled forward into another semi truck. Three people—all of them in the SUV—were killed.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol states that following too closely is a major commercial vehicle crash risk, as is driving at unsafe speeds. Violations like these are the ones troopers plan to focus on. Both the Ohio State Highway Control and the Pennsylvania State Police Commercial Enforcement sections are working together to remind commercial drivers to be more careful.

“If they’re not obeying the traffic laws,” said Cpl. James R. Willochell, “they can cause serious damage if they happen to crash.”

Commercial Vehicles More Dangerous

Already the police have issued citations to drivers with improperly secured cargo, missing regulatory markings, overloaded trailers, and speeding. Random safety inspections are also being conducted to look for hidden problems like brake wear or mechanical failure.

Because commercial vehicles are so much larger and heavier than regular passenger vehicles, they are far more likely to cause disastrous consequences in crashes. Willochell noted that they can weigh up to 80-thousand pounds, and even at reasonable speeds, can be particularly dangerous on the road.

NBC News reported in early March that statistics have shown an increase in commercial vehicle crashes in Ohio, with 12 deaths and 500 injuries already recorded for the first three months of 2014.

Similar Program Succeeds in Texas

A similar program launched in Texas in 2013 proved successful. Fort Worth, Texas experienced a 10 percent increase in fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles between 2011 and 2012. The police department’s commercial vehicle enforcement unit stepped up their enforcement program, looking particularly for aggressive drivers and increasing roadside inspections of large trucks and buses.

The result at mid-year showed a 40 percent reduction in commercial vehicle crashes.

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