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Catching reckless truckers on the highway

Catching reckless truckers on the highway

By WTMJ News Team. CREATED May 9, 2012 - UPDATED: May 9, 2012

MILWAUKEE- A special "Speedbusters" investigation looked into truck drivers so dangerous -- they don't belong on the road. 

Driving a small car among such big rigs -- can be pretty intimidating.  Especially at the high speed of the highway.

But chasing down truck drivers is a job too big for Speedbusters alone, so they teamed up with an expert -- Wisconsin State Patrol Inspector, Mark Barlar.  And he knows these cowboys of the highway better than anyone.

"They want to speed, they want to tailgate, they want to get to their next destination because they want to try to make some money," said Inspector Barlar.

Inspector Barlar knows bad truckers are the exception to the rule, but they are out there.  And some not only drive too fast or too close, but with too little sleep.

"Their reaction times are a lot slower.  They fall asleep.  And if they fall asleep, they're gonna hit somebody and they will kill people," noted Inspector Barlar.

A trucker's work day -- is capped at 14 hours; only 11 of those hours can be spent "on the road."

"That's a long day.  When I'm at 14 hours of just being awake, I get kinda tired and I want to relax a little bit," said Inspector Barlar.

Which is why Inspector Barlar does not fool around with drivers who cheat the system.

A driver stopped for speeding -- like this guy -- has his log book checked automatically.

An incomplete log tells Barlar the driver is over his hours -- and driving illegally.

Which results in another ticket in addition to the one for speeding.  Plus -- a very undesirable escort to the nearest truck stop.

The trucker is then put on an equivalent of a time-out -- out of service for the next ten hours.  He's losing time, he's losing money.  And if he moves that truck, it's another $3,000 fine on top of everything else

Barlar admits most civilian drivers will have no idea if the trucker speeding or swerving is fighting the wind -- or fighting to stay awake.

His advice -- handle all wild truck drivers the same.

Let them go around you and don't play games, because you don't stand a chance.  "You're not gonna win with a big truck," said Inspector Barlar.  "Those big trucks are weighing 10 to 20 times what the car's weighing, so you're not gonna win."

The fines truckers face for speeding and going over their hours are steep.  They can add up to more than 500 dollars. 

Which, in a business paying by the mile, can make a day's pay disappear.