THP does surprise, in-depth inspections on big rigs - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

THP does surprise, in-depth inspections on big rigs

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BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Troopers with Tennessee Highway Patrol have their eyes on big rigs in our area, checking for illegal activity, safety issues and anything that violates state or federal regulations.

Friday, they stopped 18-wheelers on I-75 North in Bradley County for in-depth inspections.

It's called "Operation Stop."

They busted a man driving a fully loaded, 80,000 pound truck under the influence of marijuana, having the drug on board and with suspended license.

"Pull in there, stay in your seat, leave your truck running," THP Lt. Carey Hixson tells the driver of an 18-wheeler.

More than a thousand truck drivers were caught by surprise, required to stop off I-75 North in Bradley County for in-depth inspections, complete with dozens of troopers and high tech equipment like infrared cameras.

"Trying to find something the eye is not going to see," THP Trooper Robert Hadden says.

These troopers say you never know what could be driving beside you on the highway, based on what they've uncovered in the past.

"Checked a truck and found it had several hundred kilos of cocaine in it. We've had them come in here drunk. You name it, you can expect to see it if you work up here enough," Trooper Hadden says.

They checked on the condition of a person behind the wheel.

"Visually looking at the driver. Does he see impairment from him? Does he see anything inside the truck that doesn't look right? You know, does he smell something? Smell beer? Smell dope?" Lt. Hixson says.

They're also seeing if the truck itself is safe to drive.

"I'm looking to make sure there's heat coming from the brake drums," Trooper Hadden says.

"When he actuates the brake pedal, it's going to make this push rod come out and we'll measure it," Lt. Hixson says.

They're making sure the trucks are not an accident waiting to happen, and that their following state and federal regulations.

"Everything has to be top notch because it's such a highly regulated industry so we have to keep up on them," Lt. Hixson says.

They put several trucks "out of service" until the mechanical issue is fixed. They busted a few without licenses. Then they arrested a man for driving under the influence of marijuana.

But, they say the vast majority received good grades and actually appreciate what they're doing, like Chattanooga truck driver Anthony Majors.

"I don't mind at all being pulled into a safety checkpoint as long as it means that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing to keep our trucks safe," truck driver Anthony Majors says.

Tennessee Highway Patrol does "Operation Stop" around four times a year.

Friday, they also had one in Manchester. It ran from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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