A pending transportation bill would ban law enforcement officers from performing roadside inspections on many Missouri roadways in the name of safety and privacy.
Earlier this month, State Senator Dave Schatz added a provision to the SB1050 transportation bill that requires that “roadside safety inspections shall not be performed on the shoulder of any highway with a posted speed limit in excess of 40 miles per hour.” There is a hearing scheduled for the bill on April 25.
Schatz made the move to curb roadside inspections because he believes that they are unsafe and an invasion of privacy. He told the Missourian, “I’ve talked with the highway patrol and these roadside inspections are unsafe for the driving public. Vehicles are being pulled over just for the purposes of these random safety checks and that’s not right. If the driving public was pulled over for these random things they wouldn’t stand for it.”
Schatz has singled out the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department’s commercial vehicle enforcement (CVEU) for allegedly performing unnecessary truck inspections in order to meet a quota: “There are two weigh stations in Franklin County, they can do the inspections there, or use the ramps into the highways. They are pulling over commercial vehicles solely for random inspections simply to fill their quotas and maintain the parameters of their grant.” The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department denies having ticket quotas; they say that they are inspecting trucks in order to protect the motoring public.
Schatz also notes that unnecessary roadside inspections can be bad for business: “Just last Friday I was leaving the radio station and a concrete truck was pulled over by the CVEU on a road with no shoulder right there in Sullivan. And that brings another aspect into this. These stops are impeding commerce. Concrete is a perishable commodity and if I was the guy at the other end of a project waiting for it I would be infuriated by the unnecessary delay.”
Just five days after the new language was added to the transportation bill, a truck owned by Schatz’s own “Schatz Underground Inc.” was pulled over by the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED) on I-29 near Platte City. During the 19 minute Level II inspection, two violations were uncovered. Schatz says that he does not believe that the inspections were retaliatory.