So the annual Roadcheck 72-hour safety inspection blitz spearheaded by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) gets rolling this week, June 3 through 5, across North America – with law enforcement personnel planning to pay especially close attention to the haulers of hazardous materials, commonly shortened to “hazmat” in industry parlance.
“Every year we select a particular are of emphasis, and for 2014 its hazmat,” Steve Keppler, CVSA’s executive director, told me by phone. “We’re encouraging a focus on that.”
Last year, the area of focus centered on changes made to hours of service (HOS) regulations – ensuring drivers in particular knew how the new rules would impact their daily work lives.
[To view more photos from Roadcheck 2013, please click here.]
For 2014, in addition to hazmat – and of course their Level I inspection duties – law enforcement personnel involved in Roadcheck are also going to focus on what Keppler called “educational outreach” to drivers concerning the importance of railroad crossing safety as well as changes that are on the way for the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) safety program introduced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) four years ago.
“CSA is complicated and the more we can help drivers understand what it is – and what it isn’t – the better,” Keppler (at right) said. “In fact ATRI [the American Transportation Research Institute] recently did a study that found awareness of CSA remains low among truck drivers. So we think Roadcheck is a great opportunity to get more information about CSA in the hands of drivers.”
[Keppler by the way strongly believes that if trucking companies focus more on safety, they’ll gain bottom line benefits. For more on his philosophy in this area, go here.]
There will also be greater attention paid to the use of electronic logging devices or “ELDs” that will eventually be mandated in trucking for tracking HOS data, he pointed out. “With more fleets adopting them, we need to add them to our inspection efforts,” Keppler explained.
Still, the primary focus of Roadcheck will remain firmly upon driver and vehicle safety inspections this year, in no small part because the rate of out of service (OOS) violations ticked upwards during 2013’s effort.
In 2013, over 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA completed 73,023 truck and bus inspections at 2,500 locations across the U.S., Mexico and Canada during Roadcheck’s 72-hour campaign – with one in five vehicles inspected placed out of service due to a violation serious enough to be considered an imminent safety hazard.
Brakes and tires are particular sore spots when it comes to truck safety, so several suppliers are trying to put helpful information out there so trucking companies can better prepare themselves for this week’s inspection “blitz.”
Fred Andersky, director of government and industry affairs for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC, put together these tips on brakes:
When it comes to tires, Love’s Travel Stops is offering a few tips. “Tires are among the highest expenses for fleets and owner-operators. Tires and wheels accounted for 10% of OOS violations during last year’s Roadcheck,” noted Dan Jensen, director of tire sales and service at Love’s. “Our roadside assistance calls increase every year during Roadcheck. We’re happy to assist, but by keeping some simple things in mind, drivers can stay on the road and cut down on costs.”
And with that, we begin the final countdown to the start of Roadcheck 2014.