CVSA Roadcheck on June 4-6, 2013 is important but flawed
Announcing inspection dates ahead of time is wrong, and gives unsafe truck and bus companies ability to avoid Roadcheck
It’s that time of the year again. On June 4-6, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will be inspecting commercial trucks and buses throughout the country, as well as in Canada and Mexico.
According to the CVSA, about 14 trucks or buses will be inspected every minute. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors at 1,500 locations across North America perform the truck and bus inspections.
As an attorney who devotes his practice to helping people injured in serious bus accidents and truck accidents, I am all for safety inspections. CVSA Roadcheck performs a valuable function by highlighting unsafe truck companies and drivers and helping get dangerously out of service trucks off the roads until they’re safe to drive and properly maintained.
But the CVSA’s announcement of its inspection dates is counterproductive. It’s worse than counterproductive. It is like a teacher announcing the date of a pop quiz ahead of time. It gives notice to all of the trucking companies who aren’t playing by the rules. The bad truck companies know to get those unmaintained trucks off of the road for that 72-hour period, as well as the truck drivers who they strongly suspect have substance abuse problems or serious health problems and who should not be behind the wheel.
We know that many truck drivers do have drug and alcohol problems, and suffer from significant health issues that impair their ability to drive a truck or bus safely. Yet many truck companies turn the other way, in order to save money.
By announcing the dates ahead of time, these companies know to pull these unsafe trucks and drivers off the road. After the three days of Roadcheck is complete, these trucks and drivers go right back on the road again.
The number of unsafe trucks that come from these yearly Roadchecks is always staggering, even with the dates for the pop quiz announced ahead of time. Last year, the 2012 Roadcheck yielded a 20.9 percent out of service rate for the trucks inspected. That means even with advance notice, one in five trucks were found to be out of service.
So even with the advance warning of this “pop quiz” to the delinquent students, the “teachers” (the CVSA) still only inspect a very small portion of the trucks on our highways. Therefore, the numbers of out of service trucks are really only the tip of the iceberg.
And that defeats the entire safety message behind Roadcheck, and allows the companies that are intent on breaking the mandatory safety regulations that they are supposed to follow to avoid inspections.
We will keep you posted on the results of the 2013 Roadcheck.