-  Image Courtesy of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Image Courtesy of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

The three-day International Roadcheck event begins May 16, 2023, and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and their employers will need to be ready.

Roadcheck typically involves about 60,000 roadside CMV inspections at locations across North America. If history is a guide, about 1 in 5 of those inspections will result in the CMV being placed out of service (OOS) for serious violations.

Avoiding a shutdown order — during Roadcheck or at any time of year — requires preparation. Here are the top three things that every motor carrier should do now to get ready for Roadcheck.

1. Prepare your vehicles

You’ll need to make sure all your CMVs are current on their daily, routine, and annual inspections and maintenance. The top five vehicle OOS violations from last year’s Roadcheck were related to:

  1. Brake systems
  2. Tires
  3. Service brakes
  4. Lights
  5. Cargo securement*

Pay special attention to your anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and cargo securement this year, because they’re the focus areas for Roadcheck 2023. Unlike cargo securement violations, ABS violations will not result in an OOS order, but ABS plays a critical role in crash avoidance by preventing the wheels from locking up or skidding and helping the driver maintain control.

Remind your drivers to do their daily pre-trip, en-route, and post-trip inspections and report any defects immediately.

In addition, ensure you have a systematic program for tracking, inspecting, and maintaining your vehicles. Federal regulations require a “systematic” maintenance program but leave the details up to you. The key is making sure your program is documented, followed, and results in safe vehicles on the road.

2. Prepare your drivers

Inspections will go much smoother if drivers are trained on the process and are mentally prepared to cooperate. They will need to follow the officer’s instructions in a professional and courteous manner, answer questions truthfully, and provide all requested documentation.

Hours of service (HOS) is always the most common type of OOS violation found during Roadcheck. Make sure your drivers know their HOS limits, are using the right type of log or time record, and are prepared to show all required documentation. Use an HOS management system that can keep close tabs on your drivers’ hours and provide tracking, auditing, and reporting functions to keep drivers safe and compliant at all times.

Here are the top five driver OOS violations during last year’s Roadcheck:

  1. False logs
  2. Wrong class of license
  3. Hours of service
  4. Suspended license
  5. No medical card

Drivers should be physically prepared as well. They will be placed out of service if they’re too tired or ill to drive safely or have used drugs or alcohol.

3. Prepare your documentation

Documents and credentials play a key role during roadside inspections. You need to make sure all drivers and CMVs are equipped with everything that’s required — and that your drivers know where to find it — including:

  • Vehicle markings — This includes your company name and USDOT number on both sides.
  • Proof of annual inspection — Drivers must be able to present inspection sticker(s) or inspection form(s) showing each vehicle passed an inspection within the past 12 months.
  • Permit credentials — Depending on the vehicle and cargo, this may include a base state or IRP cab card, IFTA license and decals, state authority credentials, insurance card, state mileage tax permits, special or temporary trip permits, and hazmat registration.
  • Shipment/vehicle documents — This may include bills of lading, shipping papers, etc., as well as any lease agreement for the vehicle(s).
  • Hours-of-service records — Unless exempt, drivers must have the correct type of log (paper, digital, or electronic logging device (ELD)) and all supporting documentation. If using an ELD, the driver must have the ELD user manual, malfunction instructions, transfer instructions, and at least eight backup logs. Drivers must be prepared to display and transfer their logs for inspection and must be able to explain any exceptions they might be using.
  • Driver credentials — The driver must have a valid license that is current and suitable for the vehicle being operated, as well as a valid medical certificate if required.

Creating and maintaining compliant drivers’ qualification and drug/alcohol testing files can go a long way toward making sure they’re always qualified to be out on the road. A driver file management service or solution can also help close the door on claims of negligent hiring or negligent entrustment following a crash.

Safety never rests

By making sure your vehicles, drivers, and paperwork are prepared in advance of a roadside inspection, including those during Roadcheck, your drivers should make it through with flying colors.

However, keep in mind that Roadcheck is a once-yearly event while the need for compliance and safety is a never-ending task. Make sure you have the necessary processes and systems in place to keep your drivers and the motoring public safe at all times of the year. When in doubt, seek help to meet that important goal.