Trucking inspection blitz aims to reduce risk of accidents

Inspections of commercial trucks are intended to increase safety regulation compliance and decrease the risk of truck crashes.

The trucking industry plays a big role in the nation's economy. These commercial vehicles transport goods throughout the country, helping consumers get the products they need in a timely manner. Although these large vehicles help to move goods in a fairly efficient manner, they do pose certain unique dangers on the nation's roadways. The massive size alone means that what may otherwise be a fairly minor accident can quickly turn tragic. Simple physics make it much more difficult for these large vehicles to stop once in motion, which can translate to devastation to any passenger vehicle that may be stopped in the path of the truck.

Various rules and regulations are in place that are designed to help reduce this risk. An upcoming inspection blitz is aimed at helping to ensure that these regulations are not only followed, but enforced.

What are common causes of trucking accidents?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a study to determine the common causes of large truck crashes. The study involved a review of 120,000 large truck accidents. Researchers with the study note that a variety of factors can contribute to an accident, including the condition of the highway, vehicle design and driver experience.

Four of the top factors that researchers found contributed to trucking accidents include:

  • Brake problems
  • Sudden stops in traffic
  • Prescription drug use
  • Speeding

Overall, the study found that the majority of accidents are tied to driver performance. This factor was broken down into four categories: non-performance, recognition, decision and performance. Non-performance involved instances when the driver fell asleep while driving or suffered a physical impairment like a heart attack. Recognition involved a failure of the driver to pay attention to the road due to some distraction. The decision category was composed of drivers who made a poor decision while driving, such as a miscalculation of speed of other vehicles while the performance category involved drivers with poor control of their vehicles.

This information aids in legislative and enforcement efforts to help increase the safety of the nation's roadways. One example involves inspections of these trucks to help ensure they are following the regulations that are already in place.

What do these truck inspections cover?

The inspection blitz is conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), a nonprofit organization that is composed of federal, state and provincial government agencies in collaboration with private industries and focuses on improving commercial vehicle operation. This organization notes that almost 4 million inspections are conducted annually throughout North America.

There are seven different types of inspections. The first level is the most comprehensive and involves a thorough review of both the vehicle and the driver. Other inspections are specialized to address specific types of cargo, such as hazardous materials or dangerous goods. Although inspections generally involve a review of the entire vehicle, there are scheduled inspection blitzes that bring attention to a particular category of violation. In the past, these blitzes have included a focus on brakes and hazardous materials. The most recent inspection blitz is scheduled to focus on cargo securement. During this blitz, inspectors will watch for violations including frayed tie downs and a failure to prevent shifting or loss of cargo.

Almost 63,000 inspections were completed during last year's inspection period. 21.5 percent of trucks were put of service during the 2016 inspections, translating to removal of 9,080 vehicles and 1,436 drivers from the nation's roadways.