The results of a national inspection effort of commercial vehicles held earlier this year were recently released. And the news is not good.
Roadcheck 2013 -conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVA), a not-for-profit organization that promotes commercial motor vehicle safety – was held in June 2013. It included 73,000 inspections of commercial trucks and buses over a 72-hour period throughout North America.
The findings of the inspections were made public by the organization on September 11. Of the total number of inspections conducted, 47,771 were what are called a North American Standard Level 1 inspection. These are the most stringent of roadside inspections. They look for state and federal violations by the commercial motor vehicles and their drivers.
Of all Level 1 inspections, 24.1 percent of vehicles examined were found to have Out-of-Service violations. This means the violations were to the extent that the vehicles should be taken off the road until they are fixed. Last year, when a similar inspection effort was held, 22.4 percent of all Level 1 inspections uncovered Out-of-Service violations.
Brake problems – adjustment problems and other issues – accounted for half (49.6 percent) of all Out-of-Service violations. In addition, performance-based brake testers, which measure the stopping power of each set of brakes on a tractor-trailer, were used in nine states during the event, for a total of 287 inspections. More than one out of every 10 (12.5 percent) commercial motor vehicles that underwent such testing were found to have an overall braking efficiency below minimum U.S. regulations.
Improperly secured cargo was the cause for about 12 percent of all Out-of-Service violations.
Driver error is but one cause of catastrophic truck and motorcoach accidents. Improperly maintained commercial vehicles, as this inspection effort highlights, represent significant dangers as well. These dangers can remain hidden following an accident unless a thorough investigation is conducted by experienced attorneys representing the victims.