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by Sean Killcarr, in Trucks at Work

All commercial truck & bus fleets and their drivers should be aware that this week will mark the 27th year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will conduct its annual 72-hour safety inspection blitz across North America – with this year’s event conducted between June 3 and 5.

roadcheckI talked to Steve Keppler, CVSA’s executive director, by phone briefly and he said that law enforcement personnel out conducting Roadcheck inspections are going to focus on a couple of key areas: Hazardous material shipments and the fleets that haul them; remind commercial vehicle operators about railroad crossing safety; update drivers on the ins and outs of the now four-year-old Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program, which is still undergoing change; and check closely trucks equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs) to make sure they are being used properly.

In 2013, some 10,000 CVSA and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) inspectors at 2,500 locations conducted a total 73,023 truck and bus inspections during the annual Roadcheck blitz, with new technologies being deployed to help improve inspection techniques for critical components such as brakes.

For example, performance based brake testers or “PBBTs” were used during Roadcheck 2013, CVSA reported, with nine U.S. states and one Canadian province equipped with PBBT systems for enforcement use. Of the 287 enforcement inspections conducted with a PBBT, 36 vehicles or 12.5% were found with overall braking efficiency below the minimum required by U.S. regulations as well as standard North American OOS criteria, the group said.

“PBBTs are being used to better evaluate stopping distance capability out in the field,” Keppler explained to me last year. “We’re also using better tools combined with inspection histories and mapping data to help inspectors focus more on the ‘high risk’ actors as well.”

Another thing that will be much on the minds of inspectors this week is that the out of service (OOS) rate for vehicles comprised 24.1% of the 47,771 North American Standard Level I inspections conducted in 2013 – compared to 22.4% out of 48,815 Level I inspections completed during Roadcheck 2012 – with the driver OOS rate hitting 4.3 % out of a total of 71,630 driver inspections, compared to 3.9% last year.

Inspectors don’t like to any of those kinds metrics moving upwards, so expect them to be even more diligent when looking over equipment and drivers this year.

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