Most Common Out-of-Service Violations as Found by the CVSA
Each year, The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance hosts an International Roadcheck, a 3-day inspection event that works to discover out-of-service violations and remove unsafe trucks and 18-wheelers from the roads. The date for this year’s International Roadcheck has been set for May 4-6, 2021.
The inspection process varies regionally, though generally commercial motor vehicles undergo a North American Standard Level I inspection. Consisting of 37 steps, Level I inspections are considered the most comprehensive of Department of Transportation inspections, examining both the driver and the vehicle.
Last year, the International Roadcheck was held in September, after getting postponed from May due to coronavirus concerns. In addition to the 26,451 Level I inspections, 11,224 Level II inspections, 11364 Level III inspections, and 1,112 Level V vehicle-only inspections were also conducted throughout Mexico, the United States, and Canada during last year’s Roadcheck.
Last Year’s Roadcheck Results
The 2020 International Roadcheck oversaw the conduction of 50,151 inspections across North America. The results found more than a fifth of vehicles inspected violated safety standards. This does not include the drivers who committed Out-of-Service violations; in the U.S. alone, the number of out-of-service driver violations discovered was 3,072.
The inspectors utilize the North American Standard Out of Service Criteria to inspect the truck. If the truck or driver is found to be in violation of the criteria, the inspector then renders the vehicle out of service until the violations are corrected. The results were as follows.
Most Common Vehicle Out-Of-Service Violations
Primarily, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck initiative works to inspect commercial motor vehicles, pulling any trucks that are found to not be in compliance with inspection regulations. The 5 most common vehicle out-of-service violations for U.S. trucks in 2020 were:
Brake System Violations – The top violation category was brake system violations, with 3,163 trucks failing to have adequate or safely functioning brake systems. This includes vehicles with chafed hoses, brake leaks, and other brake issues. Malfunctioning brake systems can cause deadly accidents; a study done the Department of Transportation reported that 18-wheelers with brake problems caused 29% of truck accidents that occurred during the study period.
Tire Violations – Following brake systems, the second most commonly found violation was tire-related violations. 2,326 trucks –just shy of 20% of those inspected– were found to have unsafe tires. This includes tires with low or high air pressure, as well as tires with low tread depth. Drivers must also ensure their tires are rotated regularly and that they monitor tire wear. Lastly, inspecting tires for irregular wear patterns can help to prevent blowouts and keep the roads safer for truckers and other drivers alike.
Light Violations – Lights were the third most-common violation category, with 1,650 trucks found to be in violation. This refers to any and all lighting devices, including headlamps, taillights, and turn signal lights, as well as reflectors and related electrical equipment. Commercial motor vehicles with dysfunctional lighting systems can prove deadly for other motorists, especially when driving at night. Pre- and post-trip inspections can easily identify these issues and prevent these trucks from getting on the road.
Brake Adjustment Violations – In addition to checking the trucks’ brake systems, the Roadcheck inspectors also check to ensure there are no issues with brake adjustment. In the 2020 Roadcheck, inspectors found 1,393 trucks to have issues with brake adjustments. Though automatic slack adjusters (ASAs), also known as automatic or self-adjusting brake adjusters, are now standard among trucks and trailers, it is important that drivers have their brake adjustment checked periodically by a professional and keep an eye out for issues to mitigate the risks of brake malfunction or failure.
Cargo Securement Violations – Finally, the fifth most common out-of-service violation found was cargo securement. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires cargo securement systems be capable of withstanding the forces associated with forward deceleration, backwards acceleration, and lateral acceleration. Failure to ensure that cargo is sufficiently secured and immobilized can cause the cargo to shift and/or fall into the road, which could be a hazard to other motorists. In addition, drivers should check the load every few hours to ensure that has remained secure throughout the trip.
Most Common Driver Out-Of-Service Violations
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) placed an emphasis on driver requirements in hopes of highlighting the importance of driver safety. The driver requirements for 2020 state that some of the conditions inspected include the driver’s commercial driver’s license and any related endorsements or restrictions, seatbelt use, drug and alcohol use, and evidence of periodic inspection.
The 5 most common driver out-of-service violations for U.S. truckers in 2020 were:
Hours of Service – The top driver out-of-service violation discovered by inspectors was hours of service violations. In the U.S., the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that property-carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours a day, after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They also require drivers to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving, and limit drivers to 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in driver fatigue, which can endanger the driver as well as other motorists.
Other – The second most common driver issue was “other,” or miscellaneous driver issues. This includes but is not limited to moving violations, cell phone use, and various other violations.
Wrong Class License – The inspectors found 683 drivers to be carrying the wrong class license. Drivers must ensure that the license qualifies them to operate the type of vehicle they are driving and the cargo they are transporting. For example, those driving 18-wheelers would need a Class A commercial driver’s license, while city bus and box truck drivers would typically need a Class B license, and those driving HazMat vehicles would need a Class C license.
False Logs – Previously, truck drivers were required to keep written logs of their hours. However, this method of record-keeping easily allowed for log falsification. The implementation of Electronic Logging Devices has made it much more difficult for drivers to falsify their logs. That said, trucks manufactured before 2000 can be exempt from ELD requirements in some cases. It’s imperative that drivers keep accurate record of their hours of service to ensure they are in compliance with federal guidelines.
Suspended License – 141 drivers were found to be working with a suspended license. A driver’s commercial driver’s license may be suspended for repeat traffic offenses, driving with a Blood Alcohol Content higher than .08%, driving without insurance, or refusing to submit to a chemical test when required to do so by law enforcement.
In addition to examining the truck and the driver, Level II and Level II inspections also inspect for hazardous materials. If detected, the inspector would then also check for shipping papers, markings, and labels and placards authorizing the driver to transport hazardous materials, as well as leaking material and unsecured hazardous cargo. In the United States, the inspections uncovered 173 hazmat out-of-service violations.
It is imperative that truck drivers and the companies they are employed by work to ensure that they are compliant with federal safety standards. Failure to do so can have deadly consequences, for both the truck drivers and those around them.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, it’s imperative that you retain an experienced Truck Accident Lawyer who understands the nuances of trucking law and safety regulations and has experience successfully representing people injured in truck and 18-wheeler accidents. Contact our Truck Accident Lawyers today to set up a free consultation. Call us at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.