“It is clear there have been dramatic safety improvements over the last 20 years and, in large part, this success has been the direct result of an increase in roadside inspections and enforcement.” -Stephen F. Campbell, executive director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) helps sponsor a 72-hour roadside safety “blitz” by federal, state, provincial and local inspectors at over 1,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada to conduct comprehensive North American Standard Level I Inspections. This year‘s event kicks off June 3, so you now have fair warning to make sure your trucks are up to snuff as they hit the highway.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of these annual roadcheck safety events, so it‘s worth noting the vast improvement that‘s occurred in terms of truck equipment safety over that time span.
Stephen Campbell, CVSA‘s executive director, noted that when Roadcheck was launched in 1988, there were 4,885 fatal crashes involving large trucks, resulting in 5,679 fatalities in the U.S. That equated to 4.12 crashes per 100 million miles, along with 94.4 people injured and 215.2 people killed per 100 million miles. Fast forward to 2006, he said, and those metrics show dramatic improvements: 2.24 crashes per 100 million miles (an 84% improvement), 47.4 injuries per 100 million miles (a 99% improvement) and 134.4 fatalities per 100 million miles (a 60% improvement).
“While we certainly have a long way to go and we can never be satisfied until we have zero deaths, it is clear there have been dramatic safety improvements over the last 20 years and, in large part, this success has been the direct result of an increase in roadside inspections and enforcement through the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP),” Campbell said in a recent press statement.
It‘s also worthy to note that the federal government is providing a lot more funding for the MCSAP effort, to the tune of $197 million last year, compared to $50 million in 1988. Annually, there are more than 3.5 million roadside inspections conducted across North America, said Campbell. “Roadcheck gets to the core of what CVSA stands for: uniformity and reciprocity of commercial vehicle inspections and enforcement activities,” he stressed. “It is through programs such as this that we are able to demonstrate to the public that we are getting results.”
Still, there are areas that need improvement - and not just in terms of equipment safety. Last year, 7,708 inspectors at 1,449 locations across North America performed 62,370 truck and bus inspections and one of the metrics they found increasing revolved around hours of service (HOS) violations by truck drivers. For the second straight year, the number of drivers placed out of service increased from 5.6% in 2006 to 6.2% in 2007 - the highest Roadcheck driver out of service rate since 1999, said Campbell - with 65.9% tagged for hours of service (HOS) violations. This compares with 57.1$ in 2006.
However, is this all due to willful logbook violation or are some drivers still confused about the complicated new rules put in place since 2004? CVSA‘s figures shoe that only 11.4% of those drivers placed out of service falsified records of their duty status, down from 12.4% in 2006. That indicates to me that there‘s still a lot of confusion out there about HOS rules that needs to be cleared up myself.
Still, remember that 93.8% of all drivers last year passed roadcheck inspections, with 78.5% of all commercial vehicles passing as well. Those are some pretty good numbers. Let‘s hope we keep seeing such positive results after this year‘s round as well.