INDIANAPOLIS - A state lawmaker is pushing to restore funding for state motor carrier inspectors laid off because of budget cuts.
"Indiana is the Crossroads of America, and we are not living up to our responsibility of making sure they’re safe," said Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis.
Forestal’s comments came in response to a Call 6 investigation that found thousands of trucks rolling down Indiana's busiest roads are in poor condition, making them dangerous to other motorists.
"It’s unacceptable and appalling," said Forestal.
In 2008, about 86 troopers and inspectors were dedicated to daily truck mechanical inspections statewide, according to Indiana State Police. The agency currently has 72 troopers and inspectors dedicated to the task.
According to the Indiana Motor Truck Association, one million trucks pass through Indiana every day, equivalent to one inspecting officer per 13,000 trucks.
"I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from constituents who were appalled there was only one inspector for every 13,000 trucks on the road," said Forestal. "I think the people of Indiana expect the state to inspect those trucks to make sure they're safe on the roadways."
Federal records indicate that in 2012, Indiana State Police found more than 6,000 trucks with mechanical issues so dangerous that officers immediately pulled them off the road.
"It’s nice to be able to save money, but when you do it at the expense of safety, I think we have a serious problem," said Forestal.
Inspection reports obtained by Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney showed that in central Indiana, ISP found issues such as unsafe tires, defective turn signals, brake issues and unsecured loads.
Forestal, a freshman lawmaker, is also a member of the House Roads and Transportation Committee.
"It should be addressed, and I think we need to start right away," said Forestal. "I’m hoping we will be able to restore some of that funding to make sure the roads are safe for drivers."
Forestal plans to meet with committee chair Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, to discuss restoring funding to Indiana State Police.
"I would rather get this done before a family is torn apart by, God forbid, a death," said Forestal. "We really need to make sure the roads are safe, the trucks are safe on the roads, all those things."
RTV6 requested comment from Gov. Mike Pence, but spokeswoman Kara Brooks said the office would not provide one.
"Right now, the Governor is focused on his tax cut proposal and he has maintained a full schedule," wrote Brooks in an email to RTV6. "I will not be able to provide you with an interview or comment."