What to expect during Roadcheck 2014

5/16/2014

What To Expect During Roadcheck 2014 

Most anyone who has been in the motor carrier industry for more than a few years knows about the annual “Roadcheck” event. It usually 

takes place the first week of June for 72 straight hours, when roadside inspection officers come out en masse to conduct vehicle and driver inspections of commercial vehicles traveling the highways. 

This year will be the 27th anniversary of the international truck and bus safety event, scheduled for June 3-5 throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The event is sponsored by the Commercial 

Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), North America’s leading commercial vehicle enforcement organization. CVSA is a not-for-profit international organization that is comprised of state, provincial, local, and federal motor carrier officials and industry representatives from all three North American countries. 

The event is also supported by the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), Transport Canada, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico). 

The Purposes of Roadcheck 

You might think, “Roadside inspections are conducted every day. What’s the point of having a ‘Roadcheck’ event?” The Roadcheck event is an opportunity to promote and emphasize safety and security on our highways, exemplified by this year’s theme of “Enhancing Truck and Bus Safety and Security Throughout North America.” The Roadcheck event also gives government, industry, and academia an opportunity to get a measurement of the level of motor carrier safety and security by comparing roadside inspection data to prior years. The 73,023 truck and bus inspections completed during Roadcheck 2013 offered a sizable sample for assessing the current level of motor carrier safety. 

Finally, the Roadcheck event allows an opportunity for those interested in promoting truck and bus safety to participate. In the past volunteers from some state trucking associations have come out to inspection locations to help greet drivers and direct traffic. 

A Look Back to Roadcheck 2013 

CVSA estimated that over 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors participated at approximately 2,500 fixed and temporary inspection locations. Approximately 1,000 vehicles were inspected every hour of the 72-hour event. 

Of the 73,023 inspections conducted, 47,771 were North American Standard Level I inspections — the most comprehensive roadside inspection. Of those inspections, 24.1 percent were found to have out-of-service violations and 4.3 percent of the drivers were found with out-of-service violations. In comparison, in 1991 (the first year comprehensive data were available) the Level I inspection out-of-service rates were 34.8 percent for vehicles and 5.6 percent for drivers. 

The overall out-of-service rates for Roadcheck 2013 were 20.6 percent for vehicles and 4.3 percent for drivers. There were 899 seatbelt violations issued during last year’s Roadcheck. 

Roadcheck 2013 placed special emphasis on motorcoach safety. A total of 1,471 motorcoaches were inspected, more than twice as many as the year before. A total of 3.1 percent of the drivers and 7.1 percent of the vehicles were placed out of service. Securement of cargo was another special emphasis area last year, violations of which accounted for 11.7 percent of the out-of-service violations. 

Regarding hazardous materials transportation, 2.4 percent of the drivers and 16.5 percent of the vehicles were placed out of service. 

A motor carrier’s and driver’s goal for every inspection, of course, is to pass and be awarded a CVSA decal. During Roadcheck 2013, 79.4 percent of the vehicles and 95.8 percent of the drivers passed the inspection. 


Focuses for Roadcheck 2014 

As usual, roadside inspectors will focus on doing Level I inspections, which is an in-depth inspection of both the driver and the vehicle. Roadside inspectors will place special emphasis in these areas: 

1. Hazardous Materials Compliance. CVSA has singled out hazardous materials as an area of focus this year. Inspectors will be actively looking for hazardous materials, even if there are no placards on the vehicle or no hazardous materials listed on the bill of lading or shipping paper.

2. Local Focus. State, provincial, and local jurisdictions are also encouraged to focus on safety issues particular to their area or locale. Jurisdictions are also encouraged to hand out informational and educational materials. 

Planning for Roadcheck 2014 

The annual Roadcheck event, which attunes people across North America to the issue of motor carrier safety, is not the time for a driver to be uninformed and caught off guard with a roadside inspection! Drivers need to know what the different levels of roadside inspection 

are — especially the Level I inspection, and how to follow an inspector’s instructions during a roadside inspection. Drivers should be trained about the critical items that are covered and how the inspector inspects the vehicle. Training should also cover how drivers should handle themselves during a roadside inspection. 

To help you kick off your planning, the remainder of this whitepaper provides information and training tips on these topics. 

Levels of Roadside Inspections 

As was mentioned earlier, CVSA conducts several types of roadside inspections. Following is a listing and brief description of the different types: 

• Level I — North American Standard Inspection. Most comprehensive, includes examination of compliance with critical elements of driver and vehicle regulations, takes 45-60 minutes. 

• Level II — Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection. Similar to Level I inspection, with the exception that the inspector won’t check items that require getting under the vehicle, takes about 30 minutes.  

• Level III — Driver-Only Inspection. Examination of documents that relate to the driver and any hazmat cargo (if applicable). Driver’s license, medical certificate, logbook (and HOS status), and documentation of last annual inspection are examined. The inspector will also check for hazardous materials. 

• Level IV — Special Inspection. One-time examination of a particular item, normally made in support of a study or to verify/ refute a trend. 

• Level V — Vehicle-Only Inspection. Inspection that follows vehicle portion of the Level I inspection, may take place without driver present, usually conducted at a carrier’s location during a compliance review. 

• Level VI — Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments. Inspection for select radiological shipments, which include inspection procedures, enhancements to Level I inspection, radiological requirements, and enhanced Out-of-Service Criteria. 

Roadside Inspection Process 

Once the officer has decided to conduct the inspection, he/she will make contact with the driver and initiate a driver interview. As far as the driver is concerned, the inspection will include a check of the: 

• Driver credentials (Driver’s License/CDL, medical certificate) 

• Driver’s hours-of-service compliance (logbook or electronic logging device) 

• Carrier and vehicle credential documents (markings, lease agreements, proof of annual inspection, IFTA, IRP, etc.) 

• Shipping papers (bills of lading, HM shipping papers, etc.) 

During this time, the officer will also be assessing the driver’s condition. If the driver cannot answer simple questions, cannot follow simple instructions, or appears to have some type of problem, the officer will investigate the driver further to determine if the driver is impaired, fatigued, or cannot speak English. 

If the vehicle will be inspected as well (Level I, II, or VI inspection), the officer will also provide the driver with instructions related to the vehicle portion of the inspection. 

Common Problem Areas 

Roadside inspections conducted during Roadcheck typically find the same violations found during roadside inspections conducted throughout the year. For drivers, these violations include: 

• Log violation — general form and manner 

• Driver’s log not current 

• No medical card (fed med card) in driver’s possession 

• Invalid driver’s license 

• Non-English speaking driver 

• Failing to use seat belt 

• 14-hour violation 

• False log 

• Expired medical card 

The most common vehicle violations discovered during roadside inspections include: 

• Inoperative required light 

• Tire tread depth below 2/32 (non-steering axle tire) 

• Inspection, maintenance, repair (a “catch-all” for vehicle violations) 

• Brake out of adjustment 

• Oil or grease leak 

• Brake hose not secured against damage 

• No current annual inspection 

• Discharged or unsecured fire extinguisher 

• Having a manual slack adjuster when an automatic slack adjuster is required (brakes) 

• Cargo securement 

The FMCSA Analysis and Information Resources Online shows that the top vehicle violation — by far — at roadside inspections is, “Operating Vehicle Not Having the Required Operable Lamps,” for which 504,493 violations were written during 2013. 

Many times the roadside inspection follows a traffic stop. The most common moving violation is speeding, along with following too close, failure to yield, improper lane change, improper passing, and failing to obey a traffic control device. 

Outcome of the Inspection 

Once the roadside inspection is completed, there are three potential outcomes. The desired outcome is that no violations are discovered. If that is the case, a CVSA sticker will be affixed to the vehicle. 

The second possibility is that violations were discovered, but they were not serious enough to require immediate repair. They will still count against the carrier, and possibly the driver, in the FMCSA’s CSA Safety Measurement System. The carrier is given 15 days to complete the repairs, and to sign and return the report attesting to the fact that the repairs are completed. 

The final and worst outcome is that a violation was discovered, and the violation is serious enough that the driver and/or vehicle are placed out of service until the problems are corrected. If only the driver is placed out of service, someone may need to come and take over driving the vehicle to get the load on its way. If the vehicle is placed out of service, the vehicle must either be repaired where it is or be towed directly to a repair facility. 

As you can see, most violations can be avoided when the driver comes on duty fit for the driving task, has the proper paperwork, the vehicle has been prepared, and the driver is focused — not distracted — when doing the important task of driving. 

Preparing Your Drivers 

Training drivers for a roadside inspection should cover what the officers will be looking for and making sure the following matters are in good shape: 

• The driver is fully qualified and has all his/her credentials and other paperwork, including a valid medical card and license; 

• The driver has logs for the current day (today) and the previous 7 days, and today’s log is up to 

• The driver wears his/her seatbelt and follows the rules of the road, with no speeding or unsafe driving; and 

• The driver inspects the vehicle regularly — including thorough pretrip, en-route, and post-trip inspections — and sees to it that defective items get fixed. 

• For trucks, the driver checks the cargo and cargo securement devices after the cargo is loaded, and throughout the trip. 

One of the best ways to avoid vehicle violations at roadside inspections is to do a thorough pretrip inspection of the vehicle before the first mile is driven. Any defects in the equipment must be addressed and repairs made to correct the items before the vehicle is driven. 

The pretrip inspection is where problems that lead to violations during roadside inspections can be found and corrected. The few minutes it takes to conduct a pretrip can save an hour or more waiting for repairs to be completed if the vehicle were to be placed out of service after a roadside inspection. 

Management, along with conducting training, could randomly spot-check drivers on their pretrip routines and reward those drivers who are thorough in this task. Even though the drivers may be paid for this as a part of their job, management will still find the effort and the cost of the rewards to be time and money well spent. 

Training should also be done with those responsible for vehicle maintenance. The company’s preventive maintenance program should bring the vehicles in on a regular schedule and replace parts before they can break down on the road. 

Finally, train drivers on what to expect during a roadside inspection. Drivers should be familiar with the most common levels of inspection (Levels I, II, and III) and be able to understand and respond to the inspector’s instructions and hand motions. As part of the training, discuss appropriate behaviors during the inspection. There is little reason to challenge the inspector’s motives or the manner in which the inspection is conducted. A courteous and respectful attitude will give the inspector a good impression of the driver and make the inspection process go much smoother. 

Drivers also need to know what the possible outcomes of a roadside inspection are, and how drivers should respond and communicate with the carrier — you — regarding the outcome. 

The CSA Impact 

By now you know that the CSA program “grades” motor carriers and their drivers in seven categories, known as the seven BASICs. Carriers’ scores on most of the BASICs are available publicly, so keeping your scores low is naturally a critical goal. 

One way to keep scores low — or to bring high scores down — is to increase the number of “clean” (no violation) inspections you have. The scoring works like this: the CSA math adds up the “severity” of all your roadside violations in each BASIC and then, in five of the seven BASICs, divides that total by the number of relevant inspections you had, with more emphasis given to the most recent inspections. The resulting number is compared against other carriers to determine your overall ranking in the BASIC. Therefore, the more recent, clean inspections you have, the better your scores will be. 

A Final Thought 

As odd as this may sound, Roadcheck 2014 could be an opportunity. On average, about three times more inspections are done each day during Roadcheck than are done on any other day of the year. For carriers and drivers that are well prepared and want to get some “clean” inspections on their record, June 3-5 would be a good stretch of days to be out on the road.



About the Author 

Betty Weiland J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.® 

Senior Manager of the Transportation Publishing Department at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. 

With expertise in transportation safety issues, Betty serves as editor for the industry standard Fleet Safety Compliance Manual and other popular Keller publications including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Pocketbook and Handbook. Having monitored and studied the motor carrier safety field for over 25 years, Betty has developed close ties in federal and state regulatory agencies, the enforcement community, and the trucking industry. She is a board member of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS) and serves as secretary of the Program Initiatives Committee for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).

Laws, regulations, and best practices change. The observations and comments drawn today may not apply to laws, regulations, or best practices as they may be in the future. J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. cannot and does not assume responsibility for omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained in this whitepaper. Individuals needing legal or other professional advice should seek the assistance of a licensed professional in that field. Copyright 2014 J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. 

 

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