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Looking for a few good big-rig inspectors

The CHP is looking for people to perform safety inspections on trucks traversing the Grapevine

Posted: May 12, 2009 9:12 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Commercial vehicle inspector Isaac O'Donnell checks the brake lines on a big rig at the CHP truck-inspection station Tuesday.


Before big-rig trucks make the treacherous climb into the Grapevine, someone’s got to make sure they aren’t about to fall apart or lose control.

That’s why the California Highway Patrol’s Castaic Enforcement Facility is looking for four good eyes.

Two spots are open among the scale station’s civilian inspectors, who scrutinize northbound trucks that head for the grapevine at one of the busiest such facilities in the state. They look for signs that the mammoth machines might be carrying too heavy a load or have flat tires.

Their pay starts at more than $34,000 a year and includes health benefits.

Another perk might be the occasional funny story.

Inspector Jim Culver recalled seeing one big-rig driver thrashing around in the truck cab.

“The front windshield was shattered and an owl had flown through his window,” Culver said. “It was inside the cabin, flying around and scaring the hell out of him.”

But usually, the inspectors’ duties are far more mundane: They simply enforce state laws, ensuring the trucks are safe for the drive.

They check the brakes, tires, rims and suspension. And if something’s wrong — often to the surprise of the driver — the truck stays at the facility until the driver calls in someone to fix it.

“There’s 80,000 pounds on these trucks,” Culver said. “For them to blow a tire or crack a rim ... there’s really no way for them to know because it still just lumbers down the road.”

The job requires experience and training as a commercial mechanic, Culver said.

For information about the vehicle specialist 1 position, go to



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