Everyone is in favor of safety checks, especially when you are talking about 80,000 pounds of truck and cargo driving down the road, right? The obvious answer is yes, but the actual answer may be a bit more complicated.
Next week, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration (CSVA) will conduct its annual International road check. This event takes place June 5-7, 2018, and is the largest safety enforcement road check for trucks and buses in the world. It includes the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
The focus of this year’s inspections will be hours of service violations, which ties in heavily to the adoption of, and compliance with, electronic logging devices (ELDs). Read our previous blog that discusses ELDs and HOS.
How it affects shippers
Shippers who have experience with pricing and capacity fluctuations know that these road checks can cause disruptions in service. Inspections are not only time-consuming but sometimes result in a carrier being put out-of-service (OOS). This can be a disastrous setback for the shipper. It means their cargo is stuck -- stopped in mid-transit. The carrier is forbidden to get back on the road until the violations cited are resolved.
“There are a lot of drivers that simply take the week off,” says Jason Nickle, senior account executive at Choptank Transport. “This affects capacity which in turn affects pricing.” Nickle goes on to say that most customers are aware of the potential strain on capacity during this event and they try to plan accordingly.
How it affects carriers
62,000 inspections took place last year during DOT week, with statistics varying from 15 -17 inspections every minute. Despite the fact that cargo security was the main focus of the 2017 inspections, hours of service violations were the number one reason drivers were put out of service last year.
Even though some drivers try to avoid the road checks, there are others who use it as an opportunity. Drivers with low safety rating scores look forward to this week as a chance to get re-inspected, which is the only way to help improve a low score.
Below are three resources for both carriers and shippers to help you prepare...
- Get a FREE mid-trip inspection. If you’re a driver, you can drive more confidently by getting a mid-trip inspection. TA Truck Service locations offer free inspections between May 1 - June 7, 2018. Simply ask the truck service adviser for a coupon. They will perform a quick, non-measured inspection of key items that DOT officers look for, but that you might not notice. That includes the tire tread depth, brake shoe thickness and condition, mud flaps, air leaks, wheel seals, fluid leaks, exhaust, mirrors, fire extinguisher, triangles, lights and conspicuous tape.
- Download the FREE CVSA tip sheet. Since ELDs and HOS compliance is the main focus of this year’s safety check, here is a helpful flyer from CVSA on how to prepare for an HOS inspection.
- Pass the Road Side Inspection.
Our roadside inspection infographic (above) highlights four primary areas to review. Make sure you are prepared if you get inspected during DOT week!
- Check for decals. Carriers that have been checked and approved by government inspectors will display a decal that looks like the ones below. This decal is not relegated to the June CVSA road check but applies to any road check that occurred in 2018. The eight is for the year, and the colors indicate which quarter of the year the inspection took place.
- Plan ahead. If you’re a shipper, ship as much product as you can before inspection week. If you can’t do that, give yourself at least a few extra days buffer so if things do get held up, you’ve got a built-in cushion.
- Use a reputable freight solutions provider. Make sure you use a reputable 3PL that works with reliable, vetted carriers. This may help avoid safety check delays.