“They are out here to protect and serve us and if we are not doing our part and we are fatigued, it’s not a good thing,” said 20 year truck driving veteran Mark St. Martin.
St. Martin has been hauling products all across the mid-west. He says safety is crucial in order for him to make successful deliveries.”If we’re tired you got to pull over you have to pull over and get your rest,” he added.
Sometimes long hours on the road come at a cost. In 2013 Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter was hit and killed by a semi-driver who fell sleep behind the wheel. “Trooper Sauter was stationary in his patrol squad and was struck by a commercial motor vehicle, the driver of which was later determined to be fatigued,” said Illinois State Police Lt. Carl Heintz.
On Wednesday March 28th, 5 years after Sauter’s death, state police want drivers to know they are on the roadways. Officers will be conducting “Operation Sauter” in hopes of making roads safer and preventing future incidents.
“You are going to see troopers doing truck enforcement, they are going to stop and do record of duty status, the qualifications of the drivers, (and) some equipment violations,” said Heintz. He says the enforcement is to not only honor Sauter, but to make sure commercial drivers are operating safely.
“We are not out to get them,” Heintz said. “We are there to make sure that our highways are as safe as they can be and it’s in their interest as well to know that we are there and we may spot something on an inspection,” Heintz added.
St. Martin says the checks are a good idea, adding awareness on the road can go a long way. “Make sure you move over and give them their space, put your hazards on, slow down,” he added. The enforcement details will start Wednesday night at midnight and be carried out for a 24 hour period. The checks will happening throughout highways all over the state.