In just a few weeks, law enforcement personnel across North America will be posted at roads, weigh stations and designated inspection areas, collectively conducting thousands of inspections of commercial vehicles during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 2023 International Roadcheck.
During the three-day event, which will take place from May 16 to 18, drivers for motor carriers may go through any of the various levels of inspections, including the most thorough 37-step level I inspection.
“Carriers need to take the proactive approach, warn their drivers and make sure they know exactly what these officers are looking for in a roadside inspection — and be checking for that in their pre-trip inspections,” advised Robert Kaferle, VP of safety at Reliance Partners, a trucking insurance agency and safety consultancy, during April 17’s WHAT THE TRUCK?!? episode.
Despite CVSA releasing exactly what it is looking for during inspections, including focus areas, thousands of drivers and vehicles receive out-of-service violations each year. Last year, out of the 59,026 inspections, 12,456 vehicles and 3,714 drivers were placed out of service, according to numbers released by CVSA.
This year’s focuses are on antilock braking systems (ABS) and cargo securement — areas that drivers should pay particular attention to during pre-trip inspections leading up to the blitz.
“The lights on the side of the trailer for the ABS are not there for show, they’re there for a reason. [Drivers] should make sure they’re working correctly and that their load securement devices are not frayed [and] that they are placed in the right places,” Kaferle advised.
Below are some specifics criteria inspectors will look for regarding ABS and cargo securement:
While focus areas are of critical importance, they aren’t the only areas drivers and carriers should be concerned with. Officers will review other key areas of the vehicle during the various levels of inspections that can occur during Roadcheck.
According to CVSA’s “cheat sheet” for level I inspections, these areas include brakes; coupling devices; fuel and exhaust systems; frame, van and open-top trailers; lighting; securement of cargo; steering; suspension; and tires, wheels, rims and hubs.
Roadside inspections that result in violations can have numerous damaging consequences. Critical violations can land drivers or vehicles out of service, but any type of violation can mean costly fines as well as poor safety scores, which have a lingering effect, including pushing up insurance premiums.
Violations are a red flag that an organization needs to do something better internally, Kaferle said.
As Roadcheck rapidly nears, Kaferle reiterated the importance of training drivers, especially when it comes to pre-trip inspections. This will allow them to catch and repair any maintenance issues ahead of Roadcheck.
“This is the time that you need to focus on sharing knowledge with your drivers and making sure that they understand what the rules are and what the officers are going to be looking at,” Kaferle advised. “Drivers should be aware that it’s coming and that they’re going to be asked to pull over and have their straps evaluated, their load securement devices evaluated, their ABS. It’s no surprise.”
While fleet managers should refresh drivers now on this year’s focuses and other vehicle and driver compliance areas that will be looked at during a level I inspection, Kaferle recommends training drivers all year long.
After all, inspections can occur at any time.
“Talk to your insurance provider, talk to any safety organization — your state, national safety organizations — see what kind of information [and training materials are] out there,” Kaferle said.
Reliance Partners provides its clients with the resources they need to improve their safety programs, including informative material to train drivers on proper pre-trip inspections, which will ultimately help them achieve clean roadside inspections during International Roadcheck and throughout the year.
To learn more about Reliance Partners, click here.