As it has occurred every year for the past 29 years, thousands of commercial vehicle inspectors all across the United States and Canada will conduct a blitz of commercial vehicle inspections starting June 6 and continuing through June 8.
To prepare for this year’s 72-hour Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance International Roadcheck blitz, if you concentrate on just five areas – cargo securement, brakes, tires and wheels, lighting devices and driver logs, chances are a commercial vehicle inspector won’t likely find issues warranting out-of-service violations.
Statistically speaking, violations in those five areas generally constitute a significant majority of all out-of-service violations. Last year, commercial vehicle inspectors in the United States and Canada conducted nearly 62,800 inspections during the three-day campaign. A little over 42,200 of them were Level I inspections, and 21.5 percent of vehicles and 3.4 percent of drivers were placed out of service due to critical item violations.
Hours of service and false logs represented 46.8 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively, of all out-of-service driver violations. Brake adjustment and brake system violations combined to represent 45.7 percent of out-of-service vehicle violations. And lighting devices made up 11.7 percent of vehicle out-of-service violations. Each year, CVSA member agencies choose to place particular emphasis on a category of violations. Last year it was tire/wheel violations, which accounted for 18.5 percent of vehicle out-of-service violations. This year, the agencies chose cargo securement, which accounted for 6.1 percent of vehicle out-of-service vehicle violations in 2016.
To help you and your drivers prepare for this year’s International Roadcheck, we’ve combined several of the best recommendations we’ve found in various trade magazines and some ideas shared with us from drivers, fleets and current and prior commercial vehicle inspection officers over the years.
And just remember, by passing your inspection and getting a good score, you can help increase the number of bypasses you receive through Drivewyze.
Tip No. 1 – Get Organized
Start your preparations by reviewing your logs and paperwork. Get them in order if they are not. If your log book and paperwork aren’t electronically filed in an ELD, or if you just prefer to show paper copies of everything to inspectors, be sure to keep all of your paperwork, credentials and current copy of your HOS/duty log in a single binder. Organize the binder using color-coded tabs.
Tip No. 2 – Clean Up Your Truck
The next thing you should do is clean your truck inside and out, particularly the cab and sleeper. While you make think of the cab and sleeper as your personal space, keep in mind that living and working in a clean and organized space will help you look professional not only to inspectors, but also customers and other drivers.
Tip No. 3 – Fill Out Your HOS Every Day
Don’t wait until the end of the week to fill out your HOS log. Track them every hour and every day and fill our your report before you quit for the day.
Tip No. 4 – Clear the Air
Manually drain the air tanks periodically, based on your truck’s air usage. Once a month for high-use applications or every three months for the typical line haul application. Check the air system for leaks. Bendix recommends a 90 to 100 psi brake application, followed by a walk-around vehicle inspection listening for audible leaks. When conducting a visual inspection, check for loose hoses.
Tip No. 5 – Break to Check Your Brakes
During your next vehicle inspection, spend a little more time on the brakes. Check the friction on brake pads for cracks or missing pieces and ensure adequate thickness. Examine drums and rotors for signs of dragging brakes or overheating linings. Remember never adjust automatic slack adjusters to correct for out-of-adjustment conditions. Repeated out-of-adjustment conditions on automatic adjusters may be a sign of another issue. Technicians should look for the root cause. At the wheel-ends check to see that the air chambers, pushrods and slack adjusters aren’t damaged or hanging loose. If your truck is equipped with air disc brakes, look at the guide pin boots and tappet boots and make sure they are intact, with no cracks or tears that could allow moisture to invade.
Tip No. 6 – Secure Your Load
Pay attention to tiedowns and other cargo securement methods. One tiedown is required for articles 5 feet or less in length. Two tiedowns are required if the article is 5 feet or less in length and more than 1,100 pounds in weight or longer than 5 feet, but less than 10 feet in length, irrespective of weight. Two tiedowns are required for articles more than 10 feet in length, with one additional tiedown for every 10 additional feet in length. Generally, the tiedowns must be spaced 10 feet apart along the length of the vehicle or cargo. Refer to FMCSR Section 393.110( c ) for more details.
While defects in individual tiedowns being used to secure cargo won’t necessarily result in an out-of-service violation, an improper securement system that fails to prevent cargo from shifting during transport and leaking, spilling, blowing or falling cargo can result in a severe hit to your carrier’s safety score.
Remember that cargo is not the only thing on your truck and trailer that you must secure. Truck equipment such as spare tires, chains, shovels, ropes and tarps, just to name a few, must also be properly secured. Also be sure to check the conspicuity tape and other reflective decals and placards on your truck and trailer. Replace missing or damaged tape, decals and placards.
Tip No. 7 – Maintain Pressure
Monitoring tire pressure is quite likely the one thing drivers can do that can have the greatest impact not only on improving safety, but also in reducing operating costs. Remember that tire pressure can gain or lose 2 PSI for every 10-degree change in tire temperature. Tires get hotter as they roll. With outside temperatures climbing, tire pressures will follow, increasing the likelihood of tire failure. It’s always best to check tire pressures when the tires are cold, ideally before starting your duty period. Be sure to consult the tire manufacturer’s suggested guidelines regarding load and pressure limits for its tires.
Tip No. 8 – Keep the Tail & Running Lights Burning
Running lights and tail lights must be installed on certain parts of a truck or trailer and in certain locations to maximize visibility and to ensure secure mounting. Look for cracked, punctured or broken housings or blown seals and/or moisture or clouding inside the lamp housing. Those are clear signs the lights need to be replaced.
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