With warmer weather comes inspection blitz season. These inspections focus on commercial trucks and are designed to reduce the risk of serious accidents.
An inspection blitz is coming up in June, 2017. This blitz is part of an annual campaign that generally occurs in the summer months. The inspection blitz is run by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), an organization that conducts various types of inspections to help better ensure that the commercial trucks operating on the nation's roadways are safe. Failing an inspection can result in serious repercussions, including removal of trucks from the road.
These blitzes are designed to encourage “compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives.” The inspections are not secretive, but are widely campaigned. The effort is not designed to surprise fleet owners, but instead to encourage every truck driver and company take the time to make sure their trucks are in compliance.
Last year, the annual blitz focused on tires and wheel violations. This year, the focus is on cargo securement.
What is cargo securement? Cargo securement essentially refers to safe loading practices. The exact regulations can vary depending on the type of cargo. However, most regulations require that all of a truck's load, as well as equipment, is properly secured. This requires immobilization and securement within or on the vehicle.
In many cases, safe securement requires more than simply loading the back of a truck and closing the door. Large or heavy loads often require additional securement such as tie-downs. The CVSA notes that all drivers should ensure that their load is properly secured to so that it cannot “leak, spill, blow off, fall from, fall through or otherwise be dislodged from the vehicle, or shift upon or within the vehicle to such an extent that the vehicle's stability or maneuverability is affected.”
What are common violations? Some examples of common securement violations include:
- Shifting and loss of load. A failure to prevent the cargo from shifting in transit, or a failure to secure the load so that it falls from the vehicle, is the top violation.
- Equipment. It is easy for drivers to forget that equipment is also regulated in this category. This means shovels, chains and webbing that is not properly secured can also result in a violation.
- Tie-downs. Drivers are expected to regularly inspect the quality of their tie-downs. The driver is also expected to replace or repair any that are worn down or torn.
The organization notes that improper use of tie-downs and an insufficient number of tie-downs were also common violations.
How successful are these inspection blitzes? The organization puts a lot of credence in these inspection blitzes. A recent article in Fleet Owner noted that there were over 62,796 inspections conducted during last year's blitz. Of those inspected 42,236 was Level 1, or the highest category, of inspections. 21.5 percent of vehicles inspected were placed out of service.
What if a commercial truck does not follow these regulations? A failure to follow these regulations can negatively impact the company's safety rate, lead to monetary penalties and removal of trucks from the roads. If these failures result in an accident that injures others, victims could also hold the truck driver, truck company and any other liable party accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.
This type of legal action is designed to help provide the victim with a monetary award that is intended to cover the costs that resulted from the accident. This can include medical bills, prescription costs and additional care as well as lost wages. Victims are wise to seek legal counsel to better ensure their interests are protected.