Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships
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August 14, 2019 3:45 PM, EDT

North American Inspectors Championship Kicks Off

North American Inspectors Championship begins Aug. 14 in Pittsburgh. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration acting Associate Administrator and Chief Safety Officer Jack Van Steenburg speaks to the crowd. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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PITTSBURGH — The 51 commercial vehicle inspectors from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico received a rousing start to the beginning of the North American Inspectors Championship, held in conjunction with the National Truck Driving Championships.

2018 NAIC Grand Champion Jeremy Usener, a senior state trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the audience that five years ago, when he first competed in the event, he realized the importance inspectors have in keeping the nation’s highways and roads safe.

LIST OF COMPETITORS: State-by-state reps chasing the 2019 NAIC title.

PHOTOS: Inspectors' kickoff and more.

“For our profession you can compare this to the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup Finals or the NBA Finals. This competition showcases the best of the best in North America,” Usener said to the applause from competitors and their families. “If a country boy from a rural part of northwest Texas can win this competition, so can any one of you.”

The inspectors are competing to win the Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion Award, which is presented by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

They represent jurisdictions throughout North America and will be tested in a series of timed events. The compilation of scores for those categories will determine the Grand Champion.

An award is given to each inspector who scores the most points representing each of the three participating countries: Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration acting Associate Administrator and Chief Safety Officer Jack Van Steenburg was keynote speaker at the kickoff event Aug. 14.

“The collaboration between the industry is second to none. But the driving public across North America will be the real winners,” Van Steenburg said. Reducing transportation-related fatalities and injuries is about people and keeping them safe. That is why every inspection matters, all 3.6 million of them, and every inspector matters.

2019 NTDC

The 2019 National Truck Driving Championships

Qualifiers | Map | Photos | Video

Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned

What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills

When: Aug. 14-17

Where: Pittsburgh

“An inspector’s work is largely unseen. People don’t see as you’re checking tires, brakes or enforcing the hours of service. The public doesn’t know about your long hours in the snow, heat and sometimes in dangerous conditions. FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez often says to me, 'can you imagine if we didn’t do inspections throughout North America, there would be a lot more crashes and a lot more fatalities.’ ”

Besides the competition, training is a large part of the three-day event. Breakout sessions will be held to show inspectors how to properly document a violation during an inspection as well as how drivers can combat human trafficking, which the trucking industry has made a top priority. Participants also will learn about ways law enforcement agencies and truck companies and drivers can work together on this issue.

The training and competition runs Aug. 14-17, and the winners will be announced Saturday evening at an awards banquet, held in conjunction with NTDC.