The Roadcheck effect: Vacations, business as usual and a growing violation category

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It’s no secret the Roadcheck event, the all-hands-on-deck inspection push officially ongoing through today at state inspection facilities around the nation, tends to give the month of June annually an outsize presence in inspection numbers in the federal MCMIS database.

Owner-ops on the roads feel it in one way or another as well: if all of June’s typical 300,000 or so inspections year to year actually targeted the trucks in the independent, own-authority owner-operator population exclusively, that would probably ensure everybody got an inspection during the month. (Estimates vary, but operating one-truck independent carriers — not including truck owners leased to another entity — number between 100,000 and 200,000 the nation over. An analysis from our colleagues at RigDig Business Intelligence found nearly 82,000 one-truck entities operating in Q1 — meaning they found that many entities had received an inspection over the period, not the actual total number operating. Significantly, that’s up a couple percentage points over Q1 in 2017, perhaps some evidence of more owner-ops making the jump to getting authority.)

Not every trucker gets inspected, but of course — you need look no farther than Roadcheck-preps polling to see the blitz will no doubt miss several in Overdrive‘s audience. About a third of readers reported taking scheduled vacation time this week:

How did you prepare for Roadcheck?

Note the seemingly few haulers who reported investing in a bumper-to-mudflaps full inspection by a third party, such as a trusted mechanic. Owner-operator Gary Buchs, writing on the Overdrive Extra blog a couple weeks back, noted the roadside confidence he derives in his near-two-decade-old equipment by having this done systematically every few months, in addition of course to his daily pre-trips and walk-arounds at every stop.

Of course, the small percentage — 12 percent including those who noted doing “all of the above” — in the poll may well be boosted by those who characterize third-party inspections as business as usual for many in the audience, the choice of the largest share of respondents to the poll. As notes “Old Feller,” commenting under Buchs’ story on the blog: “I do the same with all of our equipment. Every other month every unit receives a full annual inspection at our company. Every time a unit goes into the shop we request the mechanic to do a visual walk-around. An extra set of eyes other than the driver is just good insurance and money well-spent.”

Said Todd Shoff, commenting under the poll shared to Overdrive‘s Facebook page:Keep my truck clean, my logs cleaner and be polite to [roadside inspectors]. But I do that every day, so nothing different for me.”

Paul Stone: “I was a Boy Scout. I’m always prepared! If my ride ain’t right, it doesn’t roll, period!”

Rick Ash: “Being pretty new to ELDs, I made sure that I had my quick reference card in my door panel and I also checked on the procedures to be able to email previous logs to an officer who requests them. I also had my truck inspected two weeks ago, which I had to do anyway though.”

There is a requirement in the regs, too, for an annual inspection, of course. Level 1 and 5 roadside inspections satisfy the requirement, according to guidance, though documentation via a CVSA sticker or inspection report needs to be kept with the truck as part of the requirement. There’s evidence inspectors are tightening up on enforcing the periodic-inspection regulations (or more drivers/carriers are making the violation easy pickings by not keeping documentation in-cab), as overall violation numbers have risen substantially the last two years:

Violations of the periodic-inspection requirement

In 2016 specifically, violations related to periodic inspection requirements accounted for 3.2 percent of all violation in the No. 8 state in our inspection-intensity rankings for that year, Indiana. The violation category was also present among the top six categories for violations in seven other states: Iowa, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, Louisiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Download our 48-state report for 2016 (the 2017 full-year update is on the way, stay tuned) via OverdriveOnline.com/csa.In 2016 specifically, violations related to periodic inspection requirements accounted for 3.2 percent of all violation in the No. 8 state in our inspection-intensity rankings for that year, Indiana. The violation category was also present among the top six categories for violations in seven other states: Iowa, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, Louisiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Download our 48-state report for 2016 (the 2017 full-year update is on the way, stay tuned) via OverdriveOnline.com/csa.

Get one of those supposedly elusive clean inspections? If it’s a Level 1 or 5, keep that report with you … Otherwise, here’s Buchs’ take on the value of the third-party’s eye in the preventive inspection process:

Roadcheck effect, take three
It’s been a couple years since we updated our “Roadcheck effect” graph of April-August inspection totals for carriers with some sort of for-hire authority, mined by Overdrive and RigDig, here’s what those 2016 (the left-most bar in each vertical pair) and 2017 (the rightmost bar) monthly totals around the nation looked in those recent past years.

In a typical pattern, June numbers jump higher than any other month in each year, partly as a result of the Roadcheck event — in 2017, CVSA reported that slightly more than 62,000 inspections were conducted during the three days of Roadcheck, nearly a quarter of the total for the month.

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