The trucking industry faces its first highway test on the safety of its vehicles and drivers since the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rules went into effect last year. Despite requirements that they limit the amount of time spent driving, truckers across the country still skirt regulations. Last year’s annual Roadcheck inspection campaign found Hours of Service violations were the top reason drivers were removed.
In 2017, more than 62,000 inspections were performed with nearly 20 percent of inspected trucks placed out of service. More concerning, nearly 5 percent of the truck drivers were placed out of service as well.
This year, badly maintained vehicles and questionable drivers will be cited again—especially if they are found driving without the ELD technology, which was to be in their vehicles by December 18, 2017 with an FMCSA “hard enforcement” by April 1st of this year. Such delays and exemptions are proof that it has not been an easy road toward compliance, a topic that I’ve blogged about in recent months.
As of this blog’s post time, the International Roadcheck inspection campaign conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is finishing up (the sweep takes place June 5-7th), and it represents the first time truckers across the country must prove they are following the law. The CVSA Roadcheck will primarily conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. The inspection includes checking brake systems, cargo securement, exhaust and fuel systems in addition to this year’s focus on hours-of-service compliance.
It is comforting to know federal regulators are not listening to excuses: “Trucking companies … could have done a better job preparing for such a major regulatory change by installing and testing the devices prior to the Dec. 18 deadline,” said Bill Quade, associate administrator for enforcement and program delivery of FMCSA.
Driving while tired and after long hours on the road creates a hazard for everyone sharing the highway with the commercial trucking industry. To curtail such unsafe conditions, Congress mandated that truckers must limit their consecutive driving hours to no more than 11 hours within a 14-hour workday, limit workweeks to 60/70 hours, and use an ELD to track hours on the road. Now it is up to regulators and the industry to ensure these truckers follow the law and keep America’s roads safe for everyone.