Two-thirds of the trucks authorities inspected during a safety sting last week in Park City were ordered off the road based on equipment violations, the Park City Police Department said, a percentage the police acknowledge is disconcerting.
Phil Kirk, a police captain who was involved in the operation, said 18 trucks -- primarily dump trucks -- were inspected. Of those, 12 were removed from service based on the inspection results. Kirk said a combined 24 safety violations were discovered on the 12 trucks that required them to be removed from service. Several were found to be overweight and others had issues with brakes, he said.
Kirk said an additional 71 violations were found between the 12 trucks.
Three Police Department officers assigned to traffic patrols and five Utah Highway Patrol troopers teamed on the operation. Police officers pulled the trucks over and troopers conducted the inspections. The operation was held between 8 a.m. and noon on May 20.
Similar operations are held once a year or so. Kirk said he had hoped the earlier inspection operations would have led to fewer violations than were found last week.
"We're finding out that, at least based on these results, that's not really the case," Kirk said, adding that the police also conducted training sessions with drivers a few years ago.
Kirk said police officers pulled over the drivers for moving violations or visible equipment violations. The traffic stops were made in Park Meadows, along Deer Valley Drive and on S.R. 248. The drivers were then ordered to the inspection site in a parking lot at Quinn's Junction.
Kirk conceded it was not clear whether the operation represented a proper sampling of dump trucks working in the area since the trucks were selected for inspection based on a moving violation or a visible equipment violation.
The authorities typically conduct similar operations once a year. Kirk said the frequency could be increased to up to four times a year based on the amount of construction in Park City.
"I am concerned and certainly going to follow up with additional inspections," Kirk said, adding, "There's going to be more inspections, more frequent."
He said he prefers the authorities discover safety violations during an operation like the one last week rather than finding them after an accident.
The operation was scheduled as Park City's construction industry is enjoying a strong rebound from the depths of the recession. The year-to-date building figures through the end of April were nearly triple those through the same period in 2013.
The industry is not approaching the pre-recession boom era, but activity is widespread nonetheless as new projects go up and homeowners put money into major additions. The amount of construction along Main Street has drawn the most attention.
Joe Rametta, a general contractor based in Park City and the president of the Park City Area Home Builders Association, said he is surprised and "very disappointed" with the results of operation. He said he prefers inspection operations be organized at a checkpoint where all trucks are stopped rather than only those based on an equipment or moving violation. That would be fairer to the drivers, he said.
Rametta said the construction industry suffered a period of slow business and may have fallen behind on upkeep of trucks. He described the situation as a "deferred maintenance state of mind."
"They're putting the general public, they're putting their own employees, or their operators, in jeopardy," Rametta said.