To those wringing their hands over the possible impact of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA's) upcoming three-day international vehicle safety inspection on delivery deadlines in an already-pressurized North American motor freight market, Collin B. Mooney, the group's executive director, has a one-word message: Chill.
Each year for the past 30, CVSA, which co-ordinates commercial vehicle roadside inspection activities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, has overseen 72 consecutive hours of roadside inspections. This year's event, scheduled for June 5 and 7, is designed, as all the others have been, to call attention to the importance of comprehensive vehicle and driver inspections to keep North American roads safe, Mooney said in a phone interview.
"In reality, we don't do anything different (during the three-day period than) during any day throughout the year," Mooney said. He added that there should be no impact on supply chain performance as a result of the three-day inspection cycle, believed to be the world's largest targeted safety probe of commercial motor vehicles. During the period, 17 trucks and buses are inspected, on average, every minute, according to CVSA estimates.
What is different this year is that, effective April 1, inspectors were authorized to place drivers or vehicles out of service if a truck was not equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) to monitor a driver's hours-of-service compliance. Mooney acknowledged that conducting the inspections just two months after the start of ELD enforcement could be a factor in the event gaining more visibility than it has in past years.
Transport consultancy TranzAct Technologies Inc. issued an e-mail communiqué today saying that shippers "may see shipment delays or find it more difficult to book transportation during this window." Many truckers schedule their vacations around the program to avoid the hassle of being stopped and having their vehicles inspected, TranzAct said. As a result, capacity generally tightens during the three-day cycle, according to the firm.
The controversial ELD mandate, which was written by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and took effect last Dec. 18, applies to trucks built after the year 2000. The original regulation included some exemptions, such as for drivers operating vehicles on runs of less than 150 miles and for vehicles used in certain rental operations. CVSA, for its part, frowns on exemptions because they pose challenges to an orderly, uniform inspection system. However, it agrees that, in some cases, exemptions are warranted.
The ELD mandate is believed to have curtailed fleet productivity by up to 10 percent because drivers can no longer manipulate paper logbooks to, for example, log dock waiting times as time off instead of those hours being included in a driver's 14-hour workday. Not surprisingly, some are concerned that in a market where certain lengths of haul that used to be covered in one day are now done in two, any detailed roadside inspections could make things harder for drivers to make their delivery commitments.
During the event, known as "International Roadcheck," inspectors will primarily conduct the group's standard "Level I" inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. Drivers are asked to provide their operating credentials and hours-of-service documentation, and they will be checked for seat-belt usage.
If no critical violations are found during a Level I Inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle indicating that it passed inspection. If an inspector identifies critical violations, he or she may issue an out-of-service order against the driver or the vehicle, meaning the driver cannot operate the vehicle until the violation or violations(s) are corrected.
There are about 13,000 state and federal roadside inspectors monitored by CVSA.