Virginia DMV Puts the Brakes on Unsafe Trucks

RICHMOND, Va. - The states DMV has a new tool for improving the safety of trucks traveling on Virginia highways.

Virginia joins several other states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, which use infrared sensors to inspect trucks. The Virginia DMV officially demonstrated its the new infrared inspection system (IRIS) earlier this year, but has been using the technology since last October to improve safety, said Pam Goheen, the agencys deputy director of public relations.

"One of our motor carrier programs primary concerns is the safe movement of trucks on the commonwealths roadways," Goheen said. "Infrared screening technology gives inspectors and law enforcement the information they need up-front to target trucks that should go through more thorough safety inspections."

The DMV has four IRIS units currently in the field: two operating in the Northern Virginia area, one in the Richmond area and one in the western part of Virginia. The equipment allows the DMV to inspect trucks for faulty brake systems, under-inflated tires and leaking exhaust systems without making them stop.

"If a vehicles brakes are working, they radiate heat, and that heat is highlighted on the infrared camera monitor," Goheen explained. "If the brakes are not working, they dont radiate heat, and, therefore, there is a dark image on the monitor. That tips us off to a potential problem."

More than 270,000 vehicles were inspected with IRIS over the past six months, according to Goheen. "355 trucks were identified with infrared screening as having potential problems," she said. "Of the 355 inspected, 226 trucks were taken out of service for safety violations."

Before IRIS, law enforcement officers stopped trucks for random examination. Now trucks are pulled over only if the IRIS sensors detect a problem, she said. "This gives law enforcement officers the information they need to determine if trucks need further inspection."

Cities Use Credit Cards to Create Revenue

GERING, Neb. - Perhaps youve seen the ads on TV: "Get a credit card with the logo of your favorite football team on it." Thats known as an affinity credit card, and, with revenue getting tougher to find, several towns in Nebraska have hit on affinity credit card programs as a way to generate extra cash.

South Sioux City, Neb., population 11, 925, has raised approximately $30,000 through its four-year-old affinity credit card program, said Lance Hedquist, city administrator. The city receives 1.25 percent of each purchase made with the Siouxland Foundation card.

"Weve used the money for a handicapped lift at the swimming pool," he said. "Weve used it for playground equipment at city parks and at schools; weve used it for a welcome sign; weve used it for baseball fields; weve used it for our arboretum project. Its a nice revenue source for one of the areas that typically gets cut in municipal budgets: parks and recreation programs."

Revenue from the card goes to the Siouxland Foundation, which disperses the funds.

Gering (Neb.) City Administrator Michael Steklac also is exploring the option of creating an affinity credit card program for his jurisdiction at the suggestion of a city council member. Steklac has been gathering comments from municipal officials across the country and searching for a model RFP.

"I was asking for lessons learned, those types of things, and one person said, Does the city really want to get involved in encouraging people to take on credit card debt?" Steklac recalled. "Another person said, Its kind of the same thing when the community is deciding to go with Coke or Pepsi for all its facilities. Its that same controversy. Youre affiliating with a particular bank in town; using your position as a government to endorse a particular bank or other financial institutions."