Carroll's fleet of trucks complies with Md. inspection law, state says

County was fined in Dec., blamed its record-keeping

January 29, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Maryland State Police have found that the bureau of Carroll County government responsible for maintaining county-owned vehicles is complying with a state law requiring annual inspections and repairs for large trucks.

The state police's commercial vehicle enforcement section paid a surprise visit to the county's Bureau of Fleet Management and Warehouse Operations on Friday, nearly two months after the bureau was charged with violating the law.

This time, an inspection was "conducted with no problems found," said Sgt. Thornnie Rouse, a state police spokesman.

Ralph Green, director of the county's Department of General Services, which oversees fleet management, said, "The state police came back to recheck and found our inspection records to be hunky-dory. ... Hopefully that puts the issue to rest."

After receiving an anonymous tip, a state police inspector issued a citation Dec. 3 charging that large county vehicles were not being inspected as required by law. The county was fined $1,023, which officials plan to appeal.

Under the state Department of Transportation law, trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, passenger buses, tractors and semi-trailers must be "inspected, maintained and repaired" every 25,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first.

The state police inspector found that the county did not maintain complete records on all its vehicles, according to the inspector's report.

County officials said the bureau's record-keeping system led the inspector to believe that county-owned vehicles were not being inspected although most were in compliance.

Since then, managers have overhauled the system to track the maintenance of 128 vehicles and other pieces of equipment that fall under the law requiring annual inspections.

Instead of keeping two sets of records - one for the state Transportation Department inspections and another for its own maintenance examinations - the bureau is keeping track of both types of inspections with one document, Green said.

Having two sets of records misled the inspector to believe that county-owned vehicles were not being examined, Green said.

In response to the citation, the bureau also scrutinized its vehicle-maintenance records and found that seven county-owned vehicles and other pieces of equipment were overdue for inspection. They have since been inspected, officials said.

To augment its record-keeping system, the bureau is using a database that lists the vehicles that need annual inspections and a program to remind officials of inspections 30 days before they are due, Green said.

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