While there’s not “a major story” contained in the data compiled by Roadcheck 2014 – the annual 72-hour safety enforcement “blitz” conducted across North America and overseen by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the U.S. – a few positive and worrying trends are popping up that CVSA Executive Director Steve Keppler thinks trucking should keep its eye upon over the next several years.

Between June 3 and 5 this year, some 73,475 truck and bus inspections were conducted by 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA personnel at approximately 2,500 locations across North America, with 49,656 of them (some 67.6%) North American Standard Level I Inspections, which are the most rigorous kind.

Where vehicles are concerned, CVSA reported that some 18.7% were placed out-of-service (OOS), which is down from 20.6% in 2013. Out of a total of 72,415 driver-focused inspections conducted during Roadcheck 2014, 4.8% were tagged with OOS violations; a slight uptick from the 4.3% recorded last year.

On the positive side where drivers are concerned, OOS violations for hours of service (HOS) infractions dropped to 46.5%; down from 50.3% in 2013 and 2012, CVSA said. False logbook incidences also declined, falling to 13.7% from 14.8% in 2013 and 15% in 2012.

“My sense is that what we’re seeing results from the greater adoption of ELDs [electronic logging devices]; that’s impacting the typical HOS violation rates we’ve seen in the past,” Keppler told Fleet Owner. “I think it’s an indicator the industry is getting used to the new [HOS] rules and related technology.”

By contrast, however, he expressed concerning over a steep spike in disqualified drivers being found operating commercial vehicles, as well as those with suspended licenses. CVSA’s Roadcheck 2014 recorded 12.7% of drivers being placed OOS for disqualification, up from 10.2% in 2013 and just 4.7% in 2012, while drivers placed OOS for driving with suspended licenses reached 7.8% during his year’s event, up from 5.2% in 2013 and 4.7% in 2012.

“Those numbers are indicators that carriers need to be far more diligent about the drivers they are dispatching,” Keppler pointed out. “We don’t what exactly is triggering this rise – maybe the integration of the medical certificate with the CDL [commercial driver’s license)] – but we need to pay attention to it.”

Overall, HOS violations and false logbooks make of up 60.2% of all driver-related OOS designations, CVSA noted.

Roadcheck 2014 also placed special emphasis on hazardous materials/dangerous goods (HM/TDG) regulatory compliance. Although they represent a smaller segment of truck transportation, such shipments require special paperwork, driver credentials, vehicle safety, load securement, and hazard identification and communication, including placarding, to signify the added risks of exposure in the event of a crash, leak or fire, CVSA said.

A total of 5,738 inspections included HM/TDG during this year’s event, with 919 (16%) found with vehicle OOS violations and 172 (3%) with driver OOS violations, the goups noted.

On the equipment side, brake adjustment, brake system, plus tire/wheel issues continue to comprise the bulk of vehicle OOS placements, CVSA indicated, with those three categories responsible for 61% of all OOS designations.

Brake adjustment violations declined during Roadcheck 2014, the group noted, falling to 16.7% from 19.5% in 2013 and 17.5% in 2012. Brake system issues dropped to 29.5% from 30.1% in 2013, though that’s higher than the 27.8% recorded during 2012’s three-day blitz.

More worrisome is that tire/wheel OOS violations jumped to 13.8% during Roadcheck 2014 compared to 10.1% in 2013 and 12.8% in 2012, Keppler noted.

“While there’s not a major story here in this year’s [Roadcheck] data, there are a series of ‘little things’ that the industry needs to pay attention to before they become ‘big’ things,” he stressed. “On the flip side, look at some of the positives – like the reduction in HOS violations – and try to learn from that. Because it will cost fleet’s a lot less to deal with safety issues prior to dispatching your drivers and their vehicles.”