27 Investigates: Dangerous Cargo

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Every day, trucks carrying hazardous materials pass through our area on the interstates. The Ohio State Highway Patrol inspects thousands per year and still only sees a small fraction of the traffic on the road.

27 Investigates wanted to know with all that cargo and transport, how safe are the highways?

Every inspection report is sent to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Inspectors go over everything, including tire pressure, load weight and security, and brake lines.

The inspections are the first step in keeping the highways safe. They can take up to an hour. Afterwards, some drivers get to go on their way while others do not. Our cameras were there when a truck hauling drilling waste was inspected. Police found so many violations the inspector parked it and wouldn’t leave until it was repaired.

“It is all about safety. We want to make sure that the drivers are safe, that the equipment they are driving is safe,” said Marvin Hill, Ohio State Highway Patrol Commercial Enforcement Division. “The drivers have problems, but we also want to make sure they have safe equipment.”

A review of state records by 27 Investigates shows some companies have worse safety records than others. A PUCO representative said there are four companies licensed for HAZMAT transport in the Mahoning Valley.

One of the four stood out for multiple violations. Better Management Corporation of Columbiana had so many that the PUCO ordered a compliance review of the company.

“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is tallying different categories as far as complying with the safety regulations,” said Matt Schilling, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. “Any time a certain threshold is met where violations are being found that will trigger compliance reviews.”

Attorney Lisa Wallace provided a statement for Better Management Corporation saying the company admits to falling below performance thresholds in two of the seven categories the federal agency monitors.

“BMC continually strives to improve performance in all seven basic categories, including its safe driving performance and vehicle maintenance, which has fallen below the intervention threshold since the compliance review was completed,” Wallace stated.

27 Investigates found that inspectors ticketed a Better Management Corporation driver, on average, twice a month, every month for the past year and a half. Two of those violations were in connection with accidents.

The company responded with a statement to the PUCO compliance review.

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