Summer Trucking Safety Inspections Uncover Alarming Results
For the 27th year in a row, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), together with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), conducted Roadcheck, a 72-hour truck safety enforcement blitz held in June. This year, inspectors at over 2,500 locations in the U.S., Mexico and Canada inspected 73,475 trucks and buses. As a result, 18.7% of the trucks inspected were placed out of service for safety violations. That amounts to nearly 14,000 trucks, or almost one out of every five semis which were stopped. Now stop to think that there are over two million trucks registered in the U.S., and Roadcheck 2014 was only able to inspect about 3.5% of them.
The majority of vehicle out-of-placement violations (60%) were for brake system issues (29.5%), brake adjustment violations (16.7%) and tire/wheel violations (13.8%). Brake failures and tire failures can of course lead to catastrophic truck accidents on the highway and are considered extremely serious issues.
Roadcheck 2014 also conducted driver-focused inspections along with the tractor-trailer inspections. “Only” 4.8% of drivers inspected – about one in twenty – were tagged with out-of-service (OOS) violations. Nearly half of these violations were for violating the FMCSA regulations on maximum hours of service. Considering that the FMCSA already allows truckers to drive for 11 hours in a 14-hour workday, with workweeks that can be six or even seven days long, it is frightening to learn that nearly half of the truckers out there are likely driving even more than that.
An equally disturbing finding was the number two reason for driver OOS violations – falsifying their logbooks. Logbooks detail compliance with hours of service and other FMCSA regulations, but false logbook incidents made up for 13.7% of OOS violations. Other significant reasons for placing truckers out of service were the facts that driver were disqualified from driving (12.7%) or were found to be driving under a suspended license (7.8%).
Truck accidents cause thousands of serious personal injuries and fatalities every year. A great deal of these tragedies could be avoided if trucks were well-maintained and drivers stayed in compliance with safety rules. While Roadcheck 2014 saw mostly improvements over last year, we still have a long way to go to make our roads and highways safe places to travel.