Wheels fall off moving truck, reigniting calls for more state inspections

Woman suffered shoulder, leg, neck and back pain

ORANGE COUNTY, Ind. - A three-vehicle crash that left one woman injured is reigniting calls for more state inspections of commercial trucks.

On May 6, a 2004 trash truck lost two of its rear wheels while traveling on US150/SR56 in Orange County.

Prior to the crash, the truck had never received an inspection from Indiana State Police, records show.

After falling off the trash truck, the wheels hit a white tractor-trailer and a yellow Hyundai.

Danielle Kendall, 27, suffered shoulder, leg, back and neck pain, according to the police report.

After a post-crash inspection, Indiana State Police cited the trash truck driver for having loose fasteners on the wheel and for the bolt holes on the wheel being elongated.

As the Call 6 Investigators reported in February , the state has one inspecting officer for every 13,000 trucks.

"That’s unbelievable," said Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, while looking at the crash photos. "I had hoped we wouldn’t wait until somebody was hurt or, God forbid, killed until we address this issue."

Forestal has been pushing to restore inspectors previously laid off due to budget cuts .

"Finding out that this truck hadn’t been inspected and it’s a 2004, that’s unacceptable," Forestal said. "It’s a safety issue and, as someone involved in public safety, I think it’s important to make sure the roads are safe."

Indiana State Police First Sgt. Ty Utterback told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney that trucking companies are required to inspect their trucks once a year and that truck drivers are required to do pre-trip inspections.

In the Orange County crash, the report said that the truck driver inspected the vehicle before he left and didn’t see any warning signs before the wheels fell off.

Utterback said it’s largely up to companies and drivers to keep their trucks safe and following the laws.

"Even if we had 10,000 inspectors, you’re not going to have every lug nut inspected," Utterback said. "Even if we increased the number of inspectors, you’re not going to touch every truck."

Utterback said checking for loose bolts on a truck’s wheels would generally be part of a state inspection.

"Something like that can be picked up in a walk around or a full, complete, under-the-truck inspection," Utterback said.

Forestal said he plans to address the issue in a summer study committee, and plans to use the Orange county crash as an example.

"This will hopefully serve as a wakeup call so that we can get this process moving faster and get more inspectors," Forestal said.

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