For the California Highway Patrol, the safety of the motoring public is our top concern. But it isn’t just men and women dressed in tan uniforms, driving black-and-white cars or riding shiny motorcycles who are out there trying to save lives. The CHP has another division of men and women working hard to ensure traffic moves smoothly and safely throughout our state – motor carrier specialists.
Donning coveralls and hard hats, the CHP’s motor carrier specialists get down and dirty performing inspections of trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. Their hard work and dedication ensures large commercial vehicles traveling up and down our highways are free of defects. The MCS employees ensure the buses and semi-trucks traveling along the highways are mechanically sound and operated by qualified, trained, rested and sober drivers.
The motor carrier safety program has been part of the CHP since 1963. In 2013, the division had its 50th anniversary. The specialists’ duties and responsibilities have increased over the years and they have come to be known as the “off-highway bus experts.”
Motor carrier specialists inspect the condition of, and certify, all school buses in California annually. This is an important responsibility – we consider children our most precious cargo. Statewide, the CHP inspects 1,191 school bus terminals and certified nearly 30,000 vehicles annually.
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The specialists also ensure charter and tour buses are safely transporting all passengers. In 2012, they inspected more than 2,100 tour bus terminals and nearly 5,300 vehicles. This coupled with public transit buses, youth buses, school pupil activity buses, and farm labor vehicles brings the grand total to 6,772 terminals and 45,000 buses statewide. That is a lot of lug nuts to check!
Besides inspections, Motor Carrier Specialists also assist with high-profile investigations. Specialists are often called upon to lend expertise to the CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) to review auto, bus, and truck crashes. They look at critical systems of a vehicle and help determine if a mechanical failure may have contributed to the cause of a collision. Their assistance helps the accident re-constructionists determine the root cause of a collision. If a mechanical issue is found, those determinations could lead to a federal recall of a vehicle to ensure future collisions aren’t caused by the same problem.
The CHP motor carrier safety program has proven to be the most successful off-highway commercial safety program in the country. For more information about the motor carrier unit, visit the commercial vehicle section page of our website at www.chp.ca.gov.