Let’s end the cat-and-mouse approach to roadside inspections

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Updated Jan 19, 2021
The annual Roadcheck all-hands-on-deck inspection event is slated this year for June 4-6.The annual Roadcheck all-hands-on-deck inspection event is slated this year for June 4-6.

We get excited about the latest tech announcements and gadgetry that have the potential to speed up our lives. But are we missing some of the basic needs simply because compliance and maintenance appear on the surface to only be added costs slowing down our progress?

We are a mere two weeks away from annual Roadcheck roadside inspection blitz. Every year, people act like this is a “let the games begin” event. Fact is, inspections are conducted every day and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance reported recently that more than 4 million inspections are conducted throughout the year across North American jurisdictions. Are you one of the owner-ops who are ready every day of every year, or are you one of the drivers who claims they will sit out the Roadcheck blitz?

I doubt the need for roadside inspections will ever be eliminated, but I do think there is a more proactive approach our industry could take to operator and equipment inspection and compliance. Our equipment is required to have its annual inspection sticker and the corresponding documents onboard, but who really believes that one inspection in 12 months is adequate? And does anyone believe that the safest approach and location to improve everyone’s safety is randomly on the side of the road or in a scale house location? That the opportunity for inspection should be merely by chance?

Many companies do go above and beyond, requiring a federal inspection equivalent at 90-120 day intervals of all company and independent contractor equipment, well above the basics required. The roadside inspection statistics appear to support such shorter intervals, given the number of out of service violations issued.

Investment in inspections is a form of risk management. It appears to some to be an added cost with little to show in return on investment simply because prevention does exactly what it says. This is all about what didn’t happen, and when we can’t see it, too often we probably will ignore the problem.

I’ve addressed the importance of regular inspections by a third party more than once. In the wake of several state troopers and truck drivers being hit on the side of the road in recent months, I feel the time has come to change the regulations and require more than one inspection be conducted every 12 months in an approved location.

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We might also save a lot of time and money with the follow-on effects of this, benefiting from safer locations for any needed repairs to be completed, without a road service call or being towed to a shop.

The death of Illinois State Trooper Jones has raised the awareness of the move-over laws. We all need to pay close attention to or our surroundings. While many drivers have tried to point the finger at law enforcement after such incidents, I respectfully disagree. As an equipment owner and a CDL holder I will wholeheartedly take personal responsibility and accept the natural consequences of my actions.

While the industry as a whole probably has the means to access the appropriate data to determine a safer interval for our inspection cycle, my experience maintaining a truck lo these many years has taught me that every 3-4 months my equipment needs a thorough going over. My life depends on the safety of my equipment — that’s a high priority for me.

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