Beginning today, June 7 , through June 9,  the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) – a not-for-profit organization behind the annual Roadcheck 2011 CMV Safety Blitz, will be conducting vehicle inspections throughout North America – Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.  Many truck drivers will undergo a North American Standard Level I Inspection.  This 37-step inspection takes about an hour to complete and focuses on a variety of factors, including alcohol and drug use, driver logs, vehicle brakes, lights, and cargo securement factors. 

The most frequent citations include brake issues and lighting issues.  For drivers that travel many miles, the most frequent violation is going over their hours of service.  Any truck used in business with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 lbs., or a truck and trailer combination with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 lbs. is subject to this inspection. 

This year’s Roadcheck will also include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) focus on motorcoach safety.  Passenger carriers should be ready for the increased likelihood of a comprehensive inspection during June 7-9.  Another target will be unscrupulous trucking companies that are suspected of moving household goods without the necessary authority. 

The result of Roadcheck 2010 in Texas was that of the 6,906 commercial vehicles inspected by the DPS, 25 per cent were taken out of service due to serious safety violations.  Troopers placed 160 of the drivers out of service for violations such as improper log books or having suspended, expired, or canceled licenses.  

Truck drivers experience roadside safety inspections at other times of the year; however, “Roadcheck is a good exercise for industry and law enforcement,”says John Conley, president of National Tank Truck Carriers.  “Hazardous materials carriers always score well, but improvement is the goal.  For a new wrinkle this year, I suggest that enforcement personnel focus on inspecting carriers with whom they are totally unfamiliar.  Pull over a carrier you have never heard of and make a new friend.  CSA requires quality inspections that will help get subpar carriers off the roads.” 

Last year, during Roadcheck 2010, 97.5% of hazmat drivers passed inspection, with 2.5% placed out of service.  Across the entire trucking industry, 95.6% of drivers passed the inspections, with 4.4% placed out of service.  Almost 84% of hazmat vehicles passed the Roadcheck inspections, with 16.3% placed out of service.  Eighty percent of all commercial vehicles passed the inspections, with 20% placed out of service.

Commercial carriers have a five-month notice prior to this exercise, allowing them time to fix the problems that they have either with the trucks or drivers.  One attorney surmises that many trucks are taken off the roads during this time frame, or certain drivers may be given time off during those days.  It has also been questioned whether some trucks find a back road to avoid inspections.  

Keeping vehicles in good condition is expensive, but it’s much better than having an accident and injuring someone.  Drivers of large vehicles know the skills that are needed to maneuver those big rigs, and understand the importance of keeping accurate records.  Every vehicle that is on the road owes it  to others to drive safe cars, trucks, pickups, buses, etc.  If these Roadchecks save lives, it is well worth the time and effort put forth.