The 72-hour period between June 2 and June 5, 2015 will see over 10,000 certified commercial truck and bus inspectors on the roads and highways of North America. This heightened scrutiny will no doubt cause concern for those commercial trucking and passenger bus operating outside the government regulations. According to Ken Kaelin – Director of New Business Development for Schneider National, “a number of the carriers on America’s roads will choose not to operate during the 72-hour period.”
Over 70,000 Commercial Trucks & Passenger Buses to Be Inspected
This 28th Annual International Roadcheck is conducted by The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico). The goal of the campaign is to average 17 inspections per minute over a 72-hour period. If my math serves me right (which it does not always), that means at least 73,440 commercial trucks and passenger buses will be inspected.
Level I Inspections to Be Conducted
According to The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance,”[i]nspectors will primarily be conducting the North American Standard Level I Inspection, which is the most thorough roadside inspection. It is a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both the driver and vehicle. Drivers will be asked to provide items such as their license, endorsements, medical card and hours-of-service documentation, and will be checked for seat belt usage and the use of alcohol and/or drugs. The vehicle inspection includes checking items such as the braking system, coupling devices, exhaust system, frame, fuel system, lights, safe loading, steering mechanism, drive line, suspension, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels and rims, windshield wipers, and emergency exits on buses.”
2014 Results Were Shocking
The results of the 2014 roadcheck shed light on the need for these inspections. Of all the vehicles inspected in 2014, just under 20% of those trucks and buses were placed out of service for safety violations. Of those tractor trailer trucks and buses put out of service, the following violations were most common.
- Brake Systems Did Not Pass Inspection – 29.5%
- Brake Adjustment Did Not Pass Inspection – 16.7%
- Tires/Wheels Did Not Pass Inspection – 13.8%
- Lights Failed Inspection – 13.5%
- Loads Failed Inspection – 11.5%
Is Enough Being Done to Hold Commercial Trucking Companies Liable?
Commercial Trucking companies have been in the news a lot of late, especially in my home state of Georgia. In just the past 3 weeks, there have been three tragic wrecks involving tractor trailer trucks. I realize that not every truck and bus on the road can be checked 24 hours a day/7 days a week; however, I am of the belief that there needs to be better funding provided the law enforcement and public agencies that police these commercial truckers and passenger bus operators. By my estimate, the 2014 International Roadcheck alone took at least 13,000 commercial trucks and passenger buses off the road for failing inspection. Keep in mind that this all occurred in a 72-hour window.
What Needs to Happen?
Whether you watch CNN, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, or Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, you cannot escape the fact that our present Congress exists solely to disagree with each other. The childish temper-tantrum attitude and lines drawn in the sand style of politics have left some of the most important safety agencies of this country understaffed and underfunded. When coupling the defective medicines/medical device recalls with the number of high profile tractor trailer truck accidents, it should as readily apparent to Washington as it is to those watching these tragedies unfold that action should have been taken yesterday.
The old idiom “Better Late Than Never” applies to any action Congress takes to address this situation. Yet, the idiom does nothing to bring back the countless lives lost while their time was spent arguing for the sake of partisan principle. Enough is enough.