Inspectors Focus on Load Securement During Annual Roadcheck Safety Blitz

Washington State Patrol
By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor

This story appears in the June 8 print edition of Transport Topics.

Commercial vehicle safety inspectors in the United States, Canada and Mexico pulled over trucks and buses in large numbers last week for safety inspections as part of North America’s annual Roadcheck event.

The kickoff for the June 2-4 chain of inspections was in Spokane, Washington, where state and federal officials said about 13,000 inspectors would try to perform 73,000 Level 1 inspections throughout the continent.

“International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with nearly 17 trucks or buses inspected, on average, every minute across North America,” said Maj. William Reese of the Idaho State Police.

Roadcheck, now in the 28th year, is organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which represents safety inspectors working for law enforcement in the three nations. Reese is CVSA’s president.

Load securement was the special focus for Roadcheck this year.

“We’ve seen some trending in data that load-securement violations have been on the rise,” said Stephen Keppler, CVSA executive director.

“The category makes up the fourth most common violation behind brakes, lights and tires,” Keppler said of load securement. Rules for securement cover both flatbeds and van trailers and how freight is fixed in place securely.

Keppler said Reese picked Spokane because of its new port of entry on Interstate 90 just west of the Idaho state line.

“The facility is brand-spanking new with all the latest technology,” said Duane DeBruyne, a spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration who attended the event with Jack Van Steenburg, FMCSA’s chief safety officer.

The inspection facility has a large building to accommodate indoor inspections, DeBruyne said, including a below-grade pit so inspectors can work standing up rather than on rolling creepers. Computer screens also provide inspectors with quicker access to databases, he said.

The partnership among FMCSA, state inspectors and motor carriers remains at the core of Roadcheck, DeBruyne said, adding that Van Steenburg warned car drivers not to tailgate, to be cognizant of a truck’s lengthier stopping distance and to avoid travel in blind spots, often called “the no zone.”

Keppler also said state highway patrols are worried about the lack of a long-term highway funding bill. Surface transportation pays for FMCSA’s annual budget, including inspection grants.

“Our funding for inspections has been flat-line for five years,” Keppler said of the FMCSA inspection grants.

“These inspections are proven to work and save lives,” he said. As for the 33 patches to the highway program since 2008, “That creates havoc in the states and makes it very difficult to plan.”