CRIME WATCH: APD inspecting big rigs

Big rigs are driving around without properly working brake lights or blinkers. Some are inches away from losing tires or steering control, and you are driving right next to them.

In this week's Crime Watch, FOX 7's Noelle Newton shows what APD officers are finding on our highways and what they are doing to keep you safe.

Officer Tim Case "red-tags" a trailer hauling an excavator.  That means he's found violations severe enough to keep the truck off the road until fixed.  His biggest concern is a turn signal that is out on the back.

"His length requires a long distance to change lanes or turn, and people, if they don't see that he's got a turn signal on, they're going to come up beside him while he's going to try and make a turn or change lanes," Case said.

Case also spots a slash on a tire and loose debris on the bed of the truck.

As a mechanic comes to make those repairs, officers move onto other big rigs. One truck was missing bolts and had a turn signal out.

"These drivers are required, they're supposed to be checking their vehicles at the start of the day when they leave the construction site, make sure everything is working and in working order. Does that always happen? No. That's why we're here trying to hold people accountable for what they're doing," Corporal Chad Martinka said.

Corporal Chad Martinka is one of 17 officers on APD's commercial vehicle enforcement team. The team is the second largest in the state.

Last year, officers inspected 5,440 trucks. They placed 1,050 vehicles and 134 drivers out of service.

So far this year, officers have inspected 3,713 vehicles and placed 607 vehicles and 103 drivers out of service.

"We've had some where officers have stopped trucks and while they're doing the inspection, you've had front axle's break, steering axles that have broken. We've had frames that are cracked, beds that have split in half, just not having the right load securement," said Martinka.

Sometimes mechanical issues can result in fatalities on our roadways. In September, police say Jose Mendez-Sanchez was killed when he struck a gravel truck travelling too slowly on the access road to I-35. The driver of the gravel truck was cited for impeding traffic and the vehicle itself was pulled out of service due to extensive mechanical issues.

"From personal experience, a good friend of mine was hit by an 18-wheeler back when we were in college and killed, so there's a personal thing of why we want to make these things safe so that doesn't happen to anyone else," said Martinka.