Roadcheck 2007 shows advances in truck fleet safety

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The U.S. trucking industry showed improvement in truck safety, including an increase in the number of drivers wearing their safety belts, as well as industry compliance with hazardous materials regulations, according to the results of the 2007 truck safety Roadcheck conducted throughout North America by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Figures also showed slight increases in the number of drivers and vehicles parked for work and rest violations as law enforcement officials continue to do a better job of targeting drivers with previous violations.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves praised CVSA for a successful Roadcheck. “Safety on the nation’s highways and the safety of the motoring public continue to be the top priorities of the trucking industry,” Graves says. “ATA supports the removal of unsafe trucks from the road. CVSA continues to become better at targeting those drivers and vehicles that should be out of operation. We appreciate CVSA’s annual Roadcheck effort, which helps ensure that education and enforcement are having a positive impact on safety.”

Underscoring the effectiveness of industrywide efforts to educate drivers about truck safety and enforce safety measures, the number of vehicles, including trucks and buses, placed out of service represented 21.5 percent of the vehicles inspected. This compared with 21.7 percent in 2006.

The number of safety belt violations during the June 5-7 enforcement blitz decreased significantly to 829 in 2007 from 1,223 a year earlier. The number of hazardous materials trucks placed out of service also declined to 17.7 percent from 18.2 percent in 2006. The number of trucks parked for brake defects also dropped.

Drivers placed out of service for noncompliance with hours-of-service rules increased slightly, as 4.9 percent of all inspections resulted in a driver being placed out of service for HOS violations, up from 4.5 percent in 2006. While results in some enforcement categories increased slightly in 2007 over Roadcheck 2006, the public should not be alarmed, ATA says; these figures do not mean that trucking is less safe, but that inspectors have improved their skill in selecting trucks and drivers for inspections.

The Roadcheck inspections were not performed at random, according to ATA; trucks and drivers were targeted for inspection based upon the safety record or previous inspection records of the motor carrier or the driver, or upon the observation skills of the trained inspectors. The inspectors use a computerized Inspection Selection System by entering the vehicle, company and driver identifying information into the computer. The ISS then gives the inspector one of three results: “inspect,” “inspection optional” or “don’t inspect.”

As part of its overall safety agenda, ATA says it will continue to promote safety belt use for all truck drivers by advocating primary safety belt laws in all states and increased safety belt enforcement efforts. ATA also continues to work with its industry counterparts to educate drivers about driver work and rest rules to ensure compliance.

ATA has supported CVSA’s annual Roadcheck since its inception and has worked cooperatively with CVSA to determine emphasis areas. Concentration in previous years has been on intermodal chassis, bulk cargo tanks, driver HOS, cargo securement, security awareness and safety belt use.