Inspection Blitz is Coming: Are You Prepared?

Every year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) holds a 72-hour truck inspection blitz throughout the U.S. from Canada to Mexico where they inspect approximately 14 trucks a minute or more than 4,440 vehicles an hour over the course of three days.

CVSA didn’t used to warn truckers of an upcoming Roadcheck, but in recent years the commercial truck not-for-profit organization lets trucker know in advance when Roadcheck will occur. The 2013 inspection program will be held from June 4-6.

Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial vehicles in the world. Each year, approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors at 1,500 locations across North America perform the truck and bus inspections.

Last year, CVSA member jurisdictions conducted a record 74,072 truck and bus inspections during the 25th Annual Roadcheck. CVSA estimates that over 9,500 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors participated at approximately 2,500 locations across North America.

Of those inspections, 48,815 were North American Standard Level 1 inspections — the most comprehensive roadside inspection, of which 22.4% of vehicles and 3.9% of drivers were placed out of service (OOS). The overall OOS rates for the entire event in 2012 (includes all inspection levels) were 20.9% for vehicles and 4.6% for drivers.

Here are the areas drivers need to address to survive a Level 1 inspection and coming out of Roadcheck 2013 unscathed. Keep in mind, inspectors will be paying special attention to braking systems and hours-of-service, the top ranking violation categories for vehicles and drivers, respectively.

LOGBOOKS:

Make sure your logs are up-to-date and accurate. Hours-of-service violations are the number one reason drivers are placed out of service during an inspection.

BRAKES:

Check for missing, non-functioning, loose, contaminated or cracked parts on the brake system; Check for “S” cam flipover; Be alert for audible air leaks around brake components and lines; Check that the slack adjusters are the same length (from center of “S” cam to center of clevis pin), and that the air chambers on each axle are the same size. Check brake adjustment; Ensure the air system maintains air pressure between 90 and 100 psi; Measure pushrod travel; Inspect required brake system warning devices, such as ABS malfunction lamps and low air pressure warning devices; Inspect tractor protection system, including the bleedback system on the trailer.

COUPLING DEVICES:

Safety Devices-Full Trailers/Converter Dolly(s): Check the safety devices (chains/wire rope) for sufficient number, missing components, improper repairs, and devices that are incapable of secure attachment. On the Lower Fifth Wheel check for unsecured mounting to the frame or any missing or damaged parts; or any visible space between the upper and lower fifth wheel plates. Verify that the locking jaws are around the shank and not the head of the kingpin and that the release lever is seated properly and that the safety latch is engaged. Check the Upper Fifth Wheel for any damage to the weight bearing plate (and its supports) such as cracks, loose or missing bolts on the trailer. On the Sliding Fifth Wheel check for proper engagement of locking mechanism (teeth fully engaged on rail); also check for worn or missing parts, ensure that the position does not allow the tractor frame rails to contact the landing gear during turns. Check for damaged or missing fore and aft stops.

FUEL & EXHAUST SYSTEMS:

Check your fuel tanks for the following conditions: Loose mounting, leaks, or other conditions; loose or missing caps; and signs of leaking fuel below the tanks. For exhaust systems, check the following: Unsecured mounting; leaks beneath the cab; exhaust system components in contact with electrical wiring or brake lines and hoses; and excessive carbon deposits around seams and clamps.

FRAME, VAN & OPEN-TOP TRAILERS:

Inspect for corrosion fatigue, cross member(s) cracked, loose or missing, cracks in frame, missing or defective body parts. Look at the condition of the hoses, check suspension of air hoses of vehicle with sliding tandems. On the frame and frame assembly check for cracks, bends, sagging, loose fasteners or any defect that may lead to the collapse of the frame; corrosion, fatigue, cross members cracked or missing, cracks in frame, missing or defective body parts. Inspect all axle(s). Inspect for non-manufactured holes (i.e. rust holes, holes created by rubbing or friction, etc.), for broken springs in the spring brake housing section of the parking brake. For vans and open-top trailer bodies, look at the upper rail and check roof bows and side posts for buckling, cracks, or ineffective fasteners. On the lower rail, check for breaks accompanied by sagging floor, rail, or cross members; or broken with loose or missing fasteners at side post adjacent to the crack.

LIGHTING:

Inspect all required lamps for proper color, operation, mounting and visibility.

CARGO SECUREMENT:

Make sure you are carrying a safe load. Check tail board security. Verify end gates are secured in stake pockets. Check both sides of the trailer to ensure cargo is protected from shifting or falling. Verify that rear doors are securely closed. Where load is visible, check for proper blocking and bracing. It may be necessary to examine inside of trailer to assure that large objects are properly secured. Check cargo securement devices for proper number, size and condition. Check tie down anchor points for deformation and cracking.

STEERING:

Check the steering lash by first turning the steering wheel in one direction until the tires begin to pivot. Then, place a mark on the steering wheel at a fixed reference point and then turn the wheel in the opposite direction until the tires again start to move. Mark the steering wheel at the same fixed reference point and measure the distance between the two marks. The amount of allowable lash varies with the diameter of the steering wheel.

SUSPENSION:

Inspect the suspension for: Indications of misaligned, shifted, cracked or missing springs; loosened shackles; missing bolts; unsecured spring hangars; and cracked or loose U-bolts. Also, check any unsecured axle positioning parts and for signs of axle misalignment. On the front axle, check for cracks, welds and obvious misalignment.

TIRES, WHEELS, RIMS & HUBS:

Check tires for proper inflation, cuts and bulges, regrooved tires on steering axle, tread wear and major tread groove depth. Inspect sidewalls for defects, improper repairs, exposed fabric or cord, contact with any part of the vehicle, and tire markings excluding it from use on a steering axle. Inspect wheels and rims for cracks, unseated locking rings, and broken or missing lugs, studs or clamps. Also check for rims that are cracked or bent, have loose of damaged lug nuts and elongated stud holes, have cracks across spokes or in the web area, and have evidence of slippage in the clamp areas. Check the hubs for lubricant leaks, missing caps or plugs, misalignment and positioning, and damaged, worn or missing parts.

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