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Feb 27, 2013 6:25 PM by Sean Mooney

DPS targets big rigs with Operation Southern Shield

TUCSON - Big rigs can be dangerous and DPS is determined to keep drivers safe so once again it has launched "Operation Southern Shield. It's not a cover name for military maneuvers, it's a crackdown along a very dangerous stretch of I-10.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, every day there is an average of 7 tractor trailer accidents somewhere in the State of Arizona. Operation Southern Shield is targeting those big rigs making sure they are safe to be on the road.

A fully loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80-thousand pounds. When it collides with a much smaller vehicle the result can be deadly. In 2011 there were over 2,500 tractor trailer accidents, 55 were fatal.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety believes safer trucks mean safer highways. Operation Southern Shield is taking place along I-10 from Casa Grande to the New Mexico border. Officer Karl Jensen says they are looking for 18-wheelers not up to speed, "Sometimes I will just stop a truck just randomly and I end up finding a whole bunch of problems that need to be shut down", Jensen said, "in other words the driver needs to stop driving right now."

Jensen also says the officer's mission is to not only find and cite violators but to teach drivers as well, "I take it as an opportunity to do what we call a roadside education"

Last year nearly 792 trucks were pulled over and inspected resulting 119 drivers having their licenses suspended and 63 trucks place out of service. The two day Operation Southern Shield ends on Thursday.

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