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CVSA Roadcheck on June 4-6, 2013 is important but flawed

Written by Steve Gursten Posted June 4th, 2013

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.

Related information:

A look at trucking industry regulations

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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