If you ever wondered what roadside inspectors frequently find when they look at drivers and trucks, the answers are conveniently tracked on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website in its Analysis & Information Online (A&I) section. The FMCSA tracks these numbers because they display what is actually taking place out on the road and how effective federal regulations may be at uncovering safety problems.
There, FMCSA lists fiscal year 2020 (Oct. 1, 2019-Sept. 30, 2020) roadside inspection summaries for driver violations, vehicle violations, hazardous materials violations, and miscellaneous other violations. It also contains information such as activity by level of inspection and by fleet size, interstate or intrastate operation, inspection timeframe and other categories. For the driver and vehicle violations, the A&I report shows seven columns – violation code, violation description, number of inspections, number of violations, percent of total violations, number of out-of-service (OOS) violations, and OOS percentage.
Within a number or percentage column you can see the priority roadside inspectors place on different violations as well as some alarming trends for safety. For example, the greatest number of violations for drivers is speeding 6-10 mph over the limit – but speeding is a very low percentage of OOS violations. Violations at the top of the list as a percentage of driver out of service include the complete failure to have an hours of service record (whether an ELD was required or not for that type of operation) and alarmingly, operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) at all or driving solo on a learner’s permit.
Various forms of inaccurate hours of service (HOS) records and violation of HOS limits are, percentage-wise, right up there among likely OOS violations. Also in this list are violations for improper driver licensing – such as wrong or absent CDL endorsement – and driving while disqualified. Failure to have a medical card is a common OOS violation, too.
Certainly, the presence of alcohol or drugs at time of a roadside inspection will get a driver placed out of service immediately. But what the A&I report clearly indicates is that speeding drivers will get pulled over – at which point they had better have their paperwork – CDL, medical card, HOS records — in good order.
Looking at the vehicle side, the most frequent violation is an inoperable light. Certainly, a missing or malfunctioning light is easy to see. But what gets a vehicle placed out of service most frequently are brakes out of service, flat tires and violations related to cargo securement. Again, what roadside inspectors can readily see out there on the road – speeding and missing lights – will have a driver and truck brought in for a complete review.
Want to stay off the A&I scorecard? Stay within the posted speed limit. Do routine pre-trip and post-trip inspections to catch equipment issues, like broken lights. Watch your hours of service. And work closely with your fleet or mechanic to achieve the overall safety record that will qualify you for participation in the PrePass weigh station bypass program. Roadside inspectors are finding violations that should concern us all. Don’t be among them.