It is with great disappointment that I read The Sun's article on the Maryland State Police's recent "dragnet" targeting trucks in Baltimore ("State police safety dragnet takes 114 trucks off the road," March 28).

Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA) and its member trucking companies are committed to efforts that improve safety on our state's roadways. We have worked cooperatively with the Maryland State Police as they developed the most extensive state enforcement program for weighing and inspecting trucks in the country, and we have supported expanded use of technology to enhance their enforcement efforts. Together, we partner with law enforcement on an annual commercial driver safety summit and also work closely on programs like Smooth Operator and Share the Road. Unfortunately, the motives of the most recent "dragnet" and subsequent article must be questioned.

One of the locations targeted trucks coming out of the Port of Baltimore. Drivers picking up containers out of the port have little control over the condition of the chassis or containers they pull. Typically, they are rented from third party providers who have the responsibility for their maintenance. A driver who notes an equipment defect has little choice but to accept it or spend hours waiting for repairs or looking for another chassis.

There was no breakdown showing the types of violations that resulted in trucks being taken off the road, only a general statement highlighting the most egregious offenses. While the types of violations cited in your article absolutely need to be addressed, it is likely that most of the violations were less severe (a defective turn signal, for example). However, readers can't know that since that information was not included in the article.

Are there unsafe trucks and drivers on the road? Yes. Should those trucks and drivers be taken off the road? Yes. However, by all meaningful measures (accident rate, fatality rate, etc.) the trucking industry's safety record both nationally and in Maryland is at an all-time high. This fact was conveniently overlooked.

It is regrettable that The Sun chose this event to portray the trucking industry in such a negative light, particularly since there are so many positive stories. Despite media invitations, The Sun has never attended one of our Driver of the Year banquets or the annual Maryland State Truck Driving Championships, both of which are heavily supported by the Maryland State Police. These events honor truck drivers with millions of accident free miles and decades of safe driving under their belts. I guess they just don't make for a good story and aren't worthy of the front page.

Like it or not, every product you own was delivered by a truck. Using the power of the media to broadly portray the industry as unsafe is an injustice to the men and women who safely delivery the products our citizens need.

In the event that The Sun wants to report on future trucking issues, we hope that you will contact Maryland Motor Truck Association. We can provide reporters with background materials and industry facts. We can also arrange for a reporter to ride along with truck drivers from across the state to get an accurate view of life behind the wheel.

Louis Campion, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

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