The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck held last June saw 12,019 commercial vehicles—for the most part trucks—removed from roadways due to equipment violations and 2,784 drivers placed out of service for driver-related violations.
For the 2019 continent-wide event, the results saw a 17.9% overall vehicle out-of-service rate and a 4.2% driver out-of-service rate. A total of 67,072 roadside inspections were performed on commercial motor vehicles in Canada and the United States.
Although most of the numbers were in line with Roadchecks in recent years, the surprisingly high number of driver hours-of-service (HOS) violations found raises concern after more than a year of full implementation of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s electronic logging device (ELD) requirement for trucks in interstate commerce, which was meant to render logbook cheating nearly impossible.
When it comes to the trucks themselves, one important thing to keep in mind is that the vehicles chosen for inspection are not selected randomly.
The inspectors, who are typically state police and Canadian provincial officers who specialize in commercial vehicle safety enforcement, will set up at a location like a weigh station, where trucks can be paraded past them slowly in a single line. They then pick out vehicles for a more thorough inspection after what they call the “looks bad, sounds bad” test—targeting those trucks that either look or sound like they might have something wrong with them.
Each year, CVSA places a special emphasis on certain kinds of violations. This year’s focus was on steering and suspension systems. The inspectors found problems with 408 steering systems (2.5% of all out-of-service vehicle violations) and 703 suspensions (4.3% of violations).
However, as has been the case since the first Roadcheck in 1988, brakes are a continuing issue. Two categories involving truck brakes—braking system problems and brakes out of adjustment—accounted for a total of 45.1% of the violations causing trucks to be place out of service.
Also since the first Roadcheck took place 31 years ago, drivers have continually complained that the roadside inspections fail to take into account the fact that even after a truck’s brakes have been properly adjusted, they go out of adjustment just as soon as the truck hits a bump or pothole in the road.
CVSA considers brakes to be such an important issue that it regularly conducts surprise roadside inspection outside of the Roadcheck schedule. One that took place in May looked at 10,358 commercial motor vehicles—mostly trucks—and found that 1,667 (16.1%) had brake-related critical violations serious enough for them to be put out of service. Another continent-wide inspection and educational event called Brake Safety Week was scheduled for Sept. 15-21.
The nearest other kinds of equipment violations serious enough for the inspectors to order vehicles be placed out of service were problems with tires and wheels, which accounted for 19.3%, cargo securement, 12.2%; lighting devices, 11.5%; frames, 1%; coupling devices, 0.8%; driveline/driveshaft, 0.4%; fuel systems, 0.3%; and exhaust systems, 0.2% (along with undefined “other” violations at 2.5%).
Perhaps the biggest surprise coming out of this year’s Roadcheck is that, in spite of ELD requirements, of the nearly 2,800 drivers who were placed out of service the biggest group were those found to have violated hours-of-services rules—a whopping 37.2%, while another 14.7% still managed to be cited for falsifying logs.
Another 22.5% of the drivers placed out of service were driving with the wrong class of license, while 7.3% were driving with a suspended license, 3% had an expired license and 1.2% were found to be in violation of restrictions placed on their licenses. CVSA also reported that 3.1% of the drivers were sidelined because they were found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Inspectors also discovered 748 seatbelt violations.
When it came to trucks hauling hazardous materials/dangerous goods, 3,851 of them were inspected and 527 (13.7%) were placed out of service, as were 52 hazmat drivers, representing 1.4% of the total.
In the end, this year’s Roadcheck also found some differences between the two countries taking part. The total vehicle out-of-service rate in the U.S. was 17.7% while it was 19.9% in Canada. In the U.S. 4.4% of the drivers who were inspected and 2% in Canada were placed out of service.