It's not your traditional patrol car.
The Kansas Highway Patrol has deployed a big rig as part of its fleet this summer in a mission to catch law breakers and reduce the number of traffic fatalities involving large trucks.
Last year, there were 72 fatal collisions, resulting in 80 deaths, that involved large trucks on Kansas roads. Trucks were involved in 19 percent of all fatality crashes in the state. About two-thirds of the crashes were attributed to passenger vehicles creating traffic violations around the trucks, said Capt. Dan Meyer of the KHP.
"This indicates a need for safe operation : around large trucks, as the public motors down the highway," he said.
The Trucks on Patrol for Safety program, or TOPS, which is in its second year, has deployed the truck to different areas of the state for 13 weeks of the year. This week the truck was in the northeast Kansas, Meyer said.
So far this year, officers have cited at least 994 drivers of passenger vehicles and 155 drivers of large trucks, issued 1,649 warnings, and seized 600 pounds of marijuana through the program, a KHP report said.
The program pairs KHP troopers with professional truck drivers. The troopers sit in the passenger seat of the big rig and report traffic violators to other troopers on patrol in the area.
"It's things like driving in the blind spots, following too closely, passing with insufficient clearance," Meyer said. "These are the primary factors (that lead to truck crashes). You've got to give them room to work. You've got to create a cushion of safety around a large truck."
The highway patrol's truck has five cameras to record violations by passenger and commercial vehicles.
The trailers and drivers are donated by the trucking industry. Companies partner with the highway patrol for a week at a time in different regions of the state.
The state enforcement will last another week, but federal funding from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been secured to operate the program again next summer, Meyer said.
Beginning Monday, the KHP will begin a statewide advertising campaign focusing on the need to allow more space for trucks while driving.