The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the international association of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) law enforcement agencies and inspectors, conducts three major enforcement events each year. International Roadcheck is a 72-hour inspection of CMVs and commercial drivers throughout North America. Brake Safety Week focuses specifically on braking systems, while Operation Safe Driver Week looks at all vehicle operators, commercial and private.

Unlike normal roadside inspection activity, during these three enforcement events inspectors from the U.S., Canada and Mexico look at virtually every CMV or vehicle operator. This includes carriers enrolled in a bypass program. CVSA organizes these events to identify trends in safety and compliance so motor carriers, and inspectors themselves, can improve highway safety.

Comparing results from year-to-year provides a glimpse into the areas motor carriers and drivers must improve. In 2020, the data may also indicate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulatory waivers on the safety and compliance practices of the trucking industry.

One thing that these three enforcement events always show – who is paying attention. CVSA widely publicizes the dates far in advance.

The 2020 International Roadcheck conducted Sept. 9-11 resulted in 50,151 inspections with 22.2% of CMVs and 5.3% of drivers placed out of service (OOS). This compares to the 2019 event, which had 67,702 inspections with only 17.7% and 4.4% OOS, respectively.

The 2020 Brake Safety Week was held Aug. 23-29, with 43,565 braking system inspections compared to 34,320 inspections the year before. The 2020 OOS rate was 12%, an improvement over 13.5% in 2019.

Operation Safe Driver Week in 2020 was July 12-18. During the week, inspectors issued 71,343 warnings and citations, compared to 134,376 in 2019, reflecting lower passenger vehicle traffic during much of the 2020 pandemic.

What do these results mean?

International Roadcheck showed hours of service (HOS) violations by CMV drivers decreasing somewhat from 2019 to 2020. A number of factors contributed to the decline including; the penetration of electronic logging devices (ELDs) into the market, HOS waivers provided by FMCSA due to the pandemic, and the recent HOS rule changes.

On the other hand, speeding and cell phone violations by CMV drivers increased significantly. This is despite the fact that professional drivers have been prohibited from using a hand-held device while operating a CMV for many years.

Speeding accounted for the most violations for both CMV and passenger car drivers during Operation Safe Driver Week each year. Failure to wear a seatbelt was a shared violation, though CMV drivers did worse than their passenger counterparts.

In 2020 passenger vehicle drivers received nearly three times as many warnings and citations as did CMV drivers and were cited for speeding six times more. Apparently, open roads during the pandemic provided too great a temptation for some drivers.

On the commercial vehicle side, International Roadcheck results underscored the mantra of “BLT” (brakes, lights and tires) as a worthy guide for vehicle maintenance and driver inspections of CMVs. Roadcheck and Brake Safety Week violations remained largely the same year-to-year. But CVSA inspectors are expressing increased concern over brake hose chafing, which can be a precursor to an OOS violation.