An award for safety

Published 10:36 pm Friday, December 14, 2012

You might have seen some of the five civilians and police officers who comprise Suffolk’s Motor Carrier Unit along the side of the road sometime during the past three years. If you did see them, there’s a good chance they were in the midst of inspecting a tractor trailer or dump truck to make sure it was safe for Suffolk’s roads.

The team was formed in 2009 to help remove unsafe and overweight vehicles from the city’s highways. City officials were concerned that increasing truck traffic on Suffolk roadways was causing the roads to deteriorate more quickly than they should, especially as truckers took to the back roads to avoid the weigh stations on Route 58. And with the growth of the warehouse and distribution industry in Suffolk, if left unaddressed the problem would only have gotten exponentially worse.

Since its inception, the Motor Carrier Unit has weighed more than 2,500 vehicles, written nearly 600 overweight summonses and placed 380 unsafe vehicles out of service, according to statistics from the city. That’s an impressive set of numbers, and it’s one that makes a real difference in the safety of Suffolk’s highways.

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Drive Safe Hampton Roads has recognized the unit for helping to make Suffolk safer, presenting members recently with the John T. Hanna Award for Traffic Safety Excellence. The award “honors those who share Mr. Hanna’s tireless dedication and commitment to improving traffic safety on Virginia’s highways,” according to Drive Safe Hampton Roads’ website. Hanna was the deputy commissioner for transportation safety in the state for many years.

Congratulations to the Motor Carrier Unit for its well-deserved award. And congratulations, also, to the officials in the police department and city administration who recognized the need for such a unit and the difference it could make in the quality of life for Suffolk residents and drivers. They deserve credit, as well.