Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance performs a 3-day International Roadcheck Inspection blitz to conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at various elements of motor carrier, vehicle and driver safety.
These inspections are quite thorough, which is why it is imperative for CDL (commercial driver’s licence) drivers to be prepared so as not to suffer adverse professional consequences. Any commercial vehicles found to not be in compliance with maintenance and safety requirements can be placed out-of-service (OOS), along with some of their drivers, depending on the violations found.
At this past May’s annual roadcheck inspection blitz, 16.5% of inspected vehicles and 5.3% of drivers were placed OOS. This can have serious repercussions on a driver as well as their employer.
What Happens if You Fail a Roadcheck Inspection?
A commercial motor vehicle found to be in need of maintenance at a roadside inspection must do the following before resuming operation.
If the vehicle’s present condition is likely to cause an accident or breakdown, §396.7(a) states that the vehicle shall not be operated. However, there is an exception to this rule in §396.7(b) which allows an unsafe vehicle to be operated on the highway only to the nearest place where repairs can be made. This option is allowed only when the inspecting officer feels it is less hazardous to the public than to permit the vehicle to remain on the highway.
If the inspecting officer determines that the vehicle is unsafe by its mechanical condition (or by the manner in which the vehicle was loaded) and would likely cause an accident or breakdown, §396.9 allows the inspector to place the vehicle OOS. The motor vehicle can then only be moved by either placing the vehicle upon another vehicle, or by towing it.
The OOS vehicle may not be operated until all noted repairs have been satisfactorily completed.
It is the responsibility of the driver to then ensure that the carrier is made aware of the roadside inspection report within 24 hours, by promptly delivering the inspection report to the carrier’s facility or by mailing or faxing the report to the carrier immediately.
Within 15 days of the inspection, the motor carrier must certify, by signing the roadside inspection form, that all repairs causing the violation(s) have been completed and then mail the form to the address of the issuing agency. The carrier must also keep a copy of the form at their principal place of business, or where the vehicle is housed, for 12 months from the inspection date.
Can you see what a headache this could end up being for you and your employer?
Avoid Being OOS with Preventive Vehicle Checks
As a professional driver with a CDL, much of the responsibility for ensuring the operational safety of the vehicle rests on you, the driver. Per the FMSCA, you are required to perform pre-trip and post-trip inspections on your vehicle, to ensure that it remains safe to operate and that the cargo is secured properly.
If during the course of your inspection you deem that the vehicle is unsafe to drive, you are required by law to make sure that the problems are fixed before driving it. Here is an overview of the key components a CDL driver should check every day before they leave their location:
- Brakes – Ensure that you have proper air loss rate, spring brakes are applying correctly, test slack adjusters.
- Fluid levels – Check proper levels and make sure you have no leaks.
- Tires – Are they properly worn? Check tread depth and look for any cuts or bulges.
- All Gauges
- Cargo Securement
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping your vehicle in safe, operational condition will save you a great deal of hassle and could even save a life.