Roadcheck 2008 Results: Truck Fleet Safety Improves

The results of Roadcheck 2008, a 3-day inspection blitz of thousands of vehicles across North America, reveal a significant increase in the number of U.S. truck drivers who passed roadside safety inspections and who were in compliance with driver work and rest rules.

Roadcheck 2008 was conducted June 3-5 and sponsored by the North America by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). More than 9,000 CVSA and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) certified inspectors at 1,683 locations across North America performed 67,931 truck and bus inspections. Of these, 52,345 were the most comprehensive North American Standard Level I inspections. Both the total number of inspections and Level I inspections were records for the annual Roadcheck event.

Improvements

Despite concerns that a weakening economy combined with ever-increasing fuel prices would push safety to the bottom of the list for commercial motor vehicle fleets, Roadcheck 2008 shows a promising improvement in truck fleet safety: The inspections yielded a vehicle-out-service rate of 23.9 percent for Level 1 Inspections, the lowest in Roadcheck’s 21-year history.

“It is clear the safety message is being heard and that the increased enforcement presence is making a difference,” said Stephen F. Campbell, CVSA’s executive director. “We appreciate the industry’s continued commitment to make safety its top priority not just during Roadcheck, but throughout the entire year.”

The overall 5.3 percent overall out-of-service rate, compared to 6.2 percent in 2007, shows that drivers may be growing more comfortable with and able to properly apply the hours-of-service rules that govern work and rest. There also was a significant improvement in hours-of-service compliance rates for drivers – 55.6 percent, compared to 66.3 percent in 2007 – reversing the trend of rising rates in recent years.

The number of drivers in compliance with hazardous materials regulations increased to 97.6 percent from 96.5 percent in 2007. The number of vehicles that passed the roadside inspections increased to 79.2 percent, compared with 78.5 percent a year earlier.

Trouble Spots

Despite some positive trends, the number of safety belt violations rose significantly this year, from 829 in 2007 to 1,226 in 2008. Safety belt enforcement continues to be a primary focus each year.

Brakes continue to be the dominating vehicle out-of-service defect, comprising 52.6 percent of the total vehicle defects. The percentage of vehicle out-of-service defects that were brake-related has declined noticeably over the last few years, down from a high of 56.6 percent in 2004.

Overall, however, industry members seem pleased with Roadcheck 2008 results.

"The numbers bear out that education and enforcement are having a positive impact on safety,” said American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves.

The Process

According to ATA, a longtime supporter of Roadcheck, the majority of the safety inspections were not performed at random. Trucks and drivers were targeted for inspection based upon the safety record, previous inspection records or the trained inspectors’ observations.

Inspectors used a computerized Inspection Selection System (ISS) by entering the vehicle, company and driver identifying information into the computer. The ISS then provided the inspector with one of three results: "inspect," "inspection optional" or "don't inspect."

“It’s critical that everyone pulls together to make our highways and roads continually safer,” said FMCSA Administrator John H. Hill. “The annual Roadcheck event provides a great focus on commercial vehicle safety. It is also important that the public do its part by driving safely in the vicinity of large trucks and buses. Let’s all of us continue to make safety the highest priority of every day.”

CVSA sponsors Roadcheck each year with FMCSA, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico).

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