By Nick Lewitzke, Mega Rentals, Inc.
Each year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts an International Roadcheck Event. This year’s event is scheduled for May 16th- 18th with an emphasis on anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and cargo securement.
The CVSA is a nonprofit organization comprised of local, state, provincial, territorial, and federal commercial motor vehicle safety officials, and industry representatives from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The Wisconsin State Patrol is the acting Class I member within Wisconsin and will lead enforcement efforts during the May 2023 Roadcheck Event.
During the 72-hour Roadcheck in 2022:
• More than 58,000 Level I, II and III Inspections were conducted in the U.S.
• 7% of Level I inspections were placed out of service.
• Total vehicle out of service rate in the U.S. was 23.8%
• 2% of drivers inspected in the U.S. were placed out of service.
Improper cargo securement was the No. 5 out of service (OOS) violation during last year’s enforcement blitz. Improper securement is a serious risk to both the driver of the commercial vehicle and other road users. Shifting loads can greatly impact the vehicles maneuverability, causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Even worse, unsecured cargo can fall, resulting in vehicle collisions and traffic hazards.
During a recent four-year study conducted by AAA, it was found that unsecured cargo and dangerous debris was a factor in more than 200,000 crashes. Two-thirds of these accidents were caused by cargo not being properly tied down. These crashes resulted in 500 deaths and 39,000 personal injuries.
In construction, it is common for drivers to transport raw materials such as lumber, sheet metal, and other building materials between jobsites, suppliers, and shops. These materials often seem heavy enough or bulky enough to be safely transported without securement. The materials can seemingly be confined or secured within a vehicle to prevent failure such as the bed of a pick-up truck.
It is the responsibility of both the operating company and driver to ensure safe and proper operation of vehicles.
However, it is required that cargo carried by a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 10,000 lbs. must be secured in accordance with CVSA standards when the vehicle is operated on a highway. Vehicles exceeding 10,000 lb. GVWR can include heavy- duty pick-up trucks and other vehicles that may not require a Commercial Driver’s License or are not typically viewed as a commercial motor vehicle.
Cargo that must be secured but can be typically taken for granted are items such as:
• Fuel cans
• Tools (power tools, leaf blowers, chain saws, etc.)
• Small generators
Even when confined within a truck bed surrounded by the vehicle body or gates, these items must be secured with properly rated straps or tie-downs. Failure to do so can result in serious accidents, or vehicles being placed out of service (stopped at the inspection point) until the problem is corrected.
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
While ABS violations do not result in the vehicles being placed out of service, the goal of this year’s campaign is to put further emphasis on the importance of properly functioning ABS systems. When operating effectively, ABS systems greatly reduce the risk of collisions by preventing the wheels from locking up or skidding. This allows drivers to maintain control of their vehicles during hard-braking events. During the 2022 enforcement, brake systems (25.2%) and defective service brakes (12.7%) were two of the top three OOS violations. It is important to ensure that the ABS indicator lights do not remain on after the ignition is started in trucks and vehicles. Although this seems simple, this is the method of testing that will be performed during this year’s roadcheck. When the indicator light remains on, this means that the system is not functioning and will result in a warning. The warning must be signed and returned to WisDOT by the individual responsible for correcting the problem prior to the vehicle being re-dispatched.
Other Areas of Inspection
During the roadcheck, drivers and vehicles will be subjected to the routine North American Standard Level I Inspections. These exhaustive inspections focus on both driver and vehicle safety compliance. The Level I inspection is a 37-step procedure that involves the examination of the carrier’s and driver’s credentials, record of duty status, the mechanical condition of the vehicle and any hazardous materials/ dangerous goods that may be present.
Common items that can force a vehicle to be put out of service in addition to cargo securement and brake systems include:
• Coupling devices (hitches)
• Lighting systems (headlights, taillights, brake lights, marker lights, trailer lights)
• Tires (tread depth and pressure)
• Wipers (wiper motors, blades, and windshield wiper fluid)
The exhaustive 37-point inspection list, along with more information can be found on the CVSA website at cvsa.org.
It is the responsibility of both the operating company and driver to ensure safe and proper operation of vehicles. This starts with the proper maintenance, resources, tools, and education to ensure that loads are secured, and the vehicles are in proper working condition before leaving the garage, shop or yard. This continues with proper operation, obeying traffic laws, eliminating distractions, planning/patience, and defensive driving tactics.
Finally, be mindful that inspections can occur anywhere, not just at Wisconsin Safety and Weight Enforcement Facilities. Wisconsin has also adopted the use of Weigh-In Motion scales on heavily traveled highways that allows State Patrol to monitor vehicles from remote locations. They can then pull the vehicles over upstream in a safe area to conduct their further inspections.