Though it is only 10 a.m., it's plenty hot on the concrete safety inspection pad at the I-95 weigh station in Dumfries, VA, during CVSA's 19th Annual Roadcheck America, which took place June 6-8.
Master Trooper Greg Duvall, part of Virginia State Patrol's Motor Carrier Enforcement division, is undeterred by the temperature as he starts going over Ricky Pinkston's rig with a fine-toothed comb.
A driver for TL carrier USA Truck, Pinkston is hauling hazardous materials, so Duvall will not only inspect his vehicle, but his logbook, bill of lading, permits, and cargo.
CVSA sponsors this 72-hour blitz of roadside inspections every year to underline the need to keep improving highway safety and to highlight important shifts in the kinds of inspections being conducted.
More roadside inspections are being done at “mobile” sites set up along major non-interstate highway truck routes to catch operators deliberately avoiding fixed inspection sites on the highways, said Lt. Herb Bridges, who heads the VA team.
Inspectors look for specific visual cues to help them determine which trucks need a good going-over. Red flags include damaged tires, cracked windshields and improperly secured or loose cargo.
We also work at night a lot because “that's when some of the bad operators think they can slip through,” said Bridges.
“We really check over the driver; you never know what you'll find,” he said. “For example, one of my troopers felt a driver's CDL didn't look right. He did some digging and we ended up breaking open a CDL fraud case.”
From CVSA's point of view, that's what roadside inspections should be all about. “We're inspecting 3-million trucks annually out of anywhere from 500-million to 1-billion truck trips on our roads,” said Steve Keppler, director of policy & programs.
“We want to focus on the high-risk operator. We don't have to worry about the good guys who are obeying the regulations.”
Back at the inspection pad in Dumfries, Trooper Duvall found one of those “good guys” in USA Truck's Pinkston. His logbook was neat, all his hazmat permits were in good order, his truck and trailer were in great shape, and his cargo was properly secured.
Pinkston wasn't surprised. “I'm always pretty calm about inspections,” he told Fleet Owner. “You've got nothing to worry about if everything's squared away like it should be.”