06/03/2015 // 1800 Truck Wreck // (press release)
Recently, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announced dates during which the organization will be performing its annual “Roadcheck” enforcement blitz. The yearly effort, which is a joint initiative of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and others, is touted as the largest targeted program across the globe that relates to the enforcement of safety inspections for commercial vehicles including tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers.
Source CVSA Report “Truck Driver Standard of Care Expert: CVSA Roadcheck: June 3rd through June 5th, 2014”
“According to the CVSA, Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial vehicles in the world. From California to Pennsylvania and from the southern tip of Mexico to the northern reaches of Canada. At any time during the event, approximately 14 trucks or buses will be undergoing inspection during the 72 hour period from June 3rd through June 5th 2014.”
Although the effort is applauded by transportation safety advocates nationwide as having saved lives and prevented thousands of injuries since its inception in 1988, it is one that is followed by unintended consequences. According to Dallas truck accident attorney Shelly T. Greco of the Eberstein Witherite LLP law firm, “although the 72 hours of inspection will help ensure that inspected commercial vehicles are safer, many truckers take a “vacation” during these 3 days to avoid inspection leading to the three days following the well-intended inspections to be the most dangerous days of the year on the road.”
Why is this so? According to Greco, the Roadcheck days are well publicized in the trucking industry so all truckers and trucking companies know it is coming. As such, the major issue that facilitates the creation of the dangerous driving period is the number of truck drivers and trucking companies that tend to find ways to avoid inspections and related penalties. Greco says “because these are roadside inspections being performed, trucks that are not on the road are not subjected to being inspected for serious issues.” These problems may range from issues with braking systems, problems with fuel and exhaust systems, tire hazards, and even driver’s license suspensions.
During last year’s Roadcheck, over 70,000 drivers and vehicles were inspected, which is only a small percentage of the more than 15 million trucks that operate in the United States.
The attorney further asserts that when many truck drivers stay off the road or are on temporary vacation during the trucking Roadcheck dates, they are losing time and money. Greco says, “When these trucks hit the road again they are then making up lost time, miles and money.” This leads some to engage in behaviors such as driving at excessive speeds and driving excessive hours to meet deadlines in order to recuperate lost revenue. Driver fatigue is the number one safety hazard in the trucking industry. Excessive speed or exceeding driving hours coupled with vehicles that may not have passed inspection make this time of travel particularly risky.
As transportation safety advocates continue to work to improve road conditions for drivers, it is important that drivers remain aware of the range of risks that can impact their safe commute. Greco suggests that although it isn’t feasible that drivers stay off the road for the three projected dangerous driving days in early June, it is important that they always practice defensive driving and don’t allow distractions to prevent them being fully aware of their surroundings. She further suggests avoiding traveling next to or in front of large trucks when at all possible.
Eberstein Witherite LLP