New concerns despite Roadcheck improvement

New concerns despite Roadcheck improvement

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual “Roadcheck” enforcement operation returned another record setting year, with overall out-of-service (OOS) rates the lowest since the group started this yearly event over two decades ago

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual “Roadcheck” enforcement operation returned another record setting year, with overall out-of-service (OOS) rates the lowest since the group started this yearly event over two decades ago.

Yet within the numbers were several disquieting increases, according to Stephen Keppler, CVSA’s executive director, that created what he dubbed “a moment of pause” for the safety enforcement organization.

“Obviously, we’re pleased with the overall results,” he told Fleet Owner. “Compliance rates either stayed the same or increased from last year – and this during a time of increased activity within the trucking industry.”

Roadcheck data from 2011 pegged the overall vehicle compliance rate at 80.7%, up from 80% in 2010, with an overall driver compliance rate of 95.8% compared to 95.6% from last year. For North American Standard (NAS) Level I inspections, compliance rates went up to 77.2% for vehicles from 76.7% in 2010 and 96.3% for drivers, unchanged from last year. In addition, there were 296 fewer safety belt violations in 2011, some 863 versus 1,159 in 2010, CVSA noted.

“We also believe it’s not a coincidence that truck-related crash fatalities and injuries are at their lowest levels ever at a time when compliance rates are at their highest ever,” said Keppler, referencing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) findings in April that truck-involved crash fatalities declined 14% between 2008 and 2009 – the latest years from which data is available.

“We think it’s important to note that increased compliance rates track so closely with reduced truck-related crashes,” he stressed.

“Roadcheck” is a 72-hour “safety inspection blitz” held annually across the U.S., Canada, and parts of Mexico, organized by CVSA with the help of inspectors from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), as well as state, provincial, and local law enforcement personnel.

Motor coaches received a high degree of emphasis this year due to recent crashes, and resulted in the second highest number of inspections – 1,217 – ever conducted on buses, according to CVSA.

The organization added that 8,000 CVSA and FMCSA certified inspectors at 2,550 locations across North America performed 70,712 truck and bus inspections during this year’s campaign – approximately 16 trucks or buses were inspected, on average, every minute. That compared to 9,856 inspectors at 2,482 locations conducting 65,327 truck and bus inspections during last year’s campaign.

“That’s another positive: that we maintained a high level of personnel and conducted more inspections, all at a time when state budgets, particularly in the U.S., are under enormous fiscal pressure,” said Keppler. “That shows truck and bus safety enforcement remains a high priority.”

Yet not all of Roadcheck’s results were so heartening, as several driver-related violations witnessed increases in 2011, CVSA noted.

While overall OOS rates for hours-of-service (HOS) violations rose only slightly, to 52.5% this year from 52.1% in 2010, OOS rates for false logs increased to 14.9% from 13.3%, while driving with an expired license crept up to 1.5% from 1.2%, and driving with a suspended license jumped to 5.3% from 4.3%. The biggest jump came in driver disqualification, rising to 6.1% from 3.7%, CVSA said.

“That shift upwards is a problem and created some pause for us,” Keppler pointed out. “It should be a concern for carriers and drivers alike because these violations are highly weighted within the FMCSA’s new Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.”

For more Roadcheck 2011 results, click here.

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