Troopers cracking down on big rigs after series of Pierce County accidents

TACOMA, Wash. – If you drive along Interstate 5 through Tacoma expect to see more police officers keeping a close eye on drivers breaking the law.

It’s part of a week-long emphasis by the Washington State Patrol in response to a series of commercial vehicle accidents centered near the SR 16 interchange with I-5.

Troopers will be upping their patrols between SR 512 to SR 18, from McChord Field to the Pierce - King County line.

“Looking for speed, following too close, lane changes, seat belts and distracted driving,” said Trooper Andrew Stoeckle.

In the past few weeks as many as half a dozen commercial big rigs crashed on I-5 in Tacoma, spurring big-time backups.

“Several of them happened during a short period of time so we’re doing an emphasis for drivers to slow down and put your phones down in construction zones,” said Stoeckle.

“I’ve seen a lot of people pulled over,” said commuter Bryan Ingle. “They’re looking for aggressive drivers.”

Ingle says he has already seen more law enforcement clamping down on violators, and he’s been stuck in the recent back-ups resulting from big-rig crashes.

“It’s frustrating if you’re trying to be somewhere by a certain time,” he said. “It sets you back.”

Troopers say in the past 18 months, more than 7-million commercial vehicles traveled through the stretch of I-5 near the Tacoma Dome. In the past year, they’ve also seen a 46% percent decrease in the number of commercial vehicle-related fatal crashes. It’s down-trending numbers like that which troopers hope to keep down during this week’s emphasis.

The state patrol says when they do cite a commercial vehicle driver, the top five problems they find are: Violations for the vehicle size, driving in the left lane, speeding, driving over their hour limits and drivers not wearing their seat belts.