While a lot of people don’t know about it, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) once again is set to conduct its International Roadcheck, the world’s largest targeted enforcement program for commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers and other big rigs. The annual International Roadcheck results in numerous citations for equipment violations, improper licensing and unsafe driving, but it also creates the year’s most dangerous three-day driving period for motorists.
The 2015 International Roadcheck includes a series of inspections conducted by CVSA-certified inspectors in the U.S., Mexico and Canada during a 72-hour period beginning June 2. Relying on participation from state and local law enforcement, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and other groups, the CVSA inspects an average of 17 commercial trucks every minute during this three-day span.
So, you may be asking yourself, how can all these inspections create a roadway danger?
Unfortunately, the timing of the International Roadcheck is announced well beforehand, giving trucking companies and truck drivers early warning of the impending inspection period. This early notice results in some companies making sure their equipment is safe and ensuring that their drivers are properly licensed, but it also provides a clear window for many to stay off the road altogether in order to avoid the potential negative consequences of an inspection.
During the 2014 Roadcheck, a total of 72,415 drivers were inspected and 3,475 of them were placed out-of-service by inspectors for various violations. Roughly half of the ticketed drivers had worked more hours than allowed by law, and 20 percent were improperly licensed or had suspended licenses. Approximately 14 percent were found to have falsified their driving logs. Of the 73,475 trucks that were inspected, nearly 20 percent were placed out of service for brake-related violations, tire and wheel violations, improper lighting and improperly secured loads.
Can anyone imagine what these numbers would have looked like if the industry hadn’t been warned that inspectors were on their way?
Soon after the inspection period expires, expect to see massive numbers of truck drivers returning to our highways along with their licensing problems and unsafe trucks. In addition to the sheer number of additional tractor-trailers and semis that will be on our roads in the days following June 4, many drivers will be attempting to make up for the miles they missed while on their so-called “Roadcheck vacations.”
Here’s hoping that International Roadcheck someday will be conducted without prior warning to truckers and their employers. Perhaps then we will be able to see a true picture our nation’s highway safety. Until that happens, it is wise to make sure your family, friends and neighbors know that the Roadcheck period expires on June 4, and that they need to be especially careful if they’re planning any highway travels in the three days immediately afterward.