Roadcheck 2015: Behind the Scenes

International Roadcheck 2015 has come and gone.

Officials estimate nearly 20 commercial vehicles were inspected every minute across the United States, Canada and Mexico during the three-day, targeted enforcement event.

An officer talks with a commercial driver during Roadcheck 2015 at a state run scale in Brandon, Iowa on June 2, 2015.
An officer talks with a commercial driver during Roadcheck 2015 at a state run scale in Brandon, Iowa on June 2, 2015.

In eastern Iowa, truck-drivers approached a small weigh-station on the southbound side of Interstate 380. A small sign illuminated “open” directing commercial vehicles to exit and line-up along the ramp. Commercial drivers patiently waited to be weighed and to learn if their trip might take a little detour. Five officers manned the scale, their small facility expecting to handle roughly 1,500 commercial vehicles over 72-hours.

The Iowa Department of Transportation participates in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck each year. This is the 28th year of the program, running June 2-4, 2015. The Iowa DOT’s enforcement agency, Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement, ran the state’s scales at full staff to check out as many commercial vehicles as possible.

For more than two decades, MVE Officer Loren Waterman has slipped on a pair of black gloves and crawled under truck after truck during this effort. In his time on the force, he’s participated in events where some scales don’t shut down – running constantly for days.

“It keeps the [truck] companies aware and on their toes, you know, they could be inspected at any time and it’s one of our ways to let them know we are out here trying to make the road safer,” Waterman explained.

MVE inspects a commercial vehicle during Roadcheck 2015 at a state operated scale in Brandon, Iowa on June 2, 2015.
MVE inspects a commercial vehicle during Roadcheck 2015 at a state operated scale in Brandon, Iowa on June 2, 2015.

This year, roughly 10,000 CVSA – certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors got their hands dirty with a Level One Inspection. This is the most thorough examination and can take upwards of an hour between paperwork and maintenance checks.

“That’s crawling underneath checking the brake suspension, air lines the whole works,” Waterman said.

Commercial vehicles in the United States are required to go through a Level One Inspection once a year. Checks completed during this CVSA effort do count toward that mandate. Those who pass will receive a CVSA decal that will likely spare them from this magnitude of inspection the rest of the year.

“If they’ve got a new sticker we generally let them pass through and then check one that doesn’t,” Waterman said.

Each year, authorities emphasize a specific category of regulation, and 2015 focused on cargo control violations and opportunities to educated drivers about equipment and procedures. This is an especially important topic as loads that are improperly secured can cause road damage and crashes resulting in injury and death.

“I always tell them [commercial drivers] you’ll never get in trouble for having too many tie-downs or going above or beyond,” Waterman said.

According to CVSA officials, the most common cargo control violation involves drivers who neglect or fail to secure their own equipment like spare tires, tarps, blocks chains or other tie-downs.

Other common issues include failure to prevent cargo from shifting or falling along with cargo that leaks, spills, blows or falls.

CVSA offers several tips for drivers to keep their loads safe and secure. Officials especially emphasize learning the rules, securing all equipment and inspecting every tie-down for wear and damage.

A weigh-station outside of Brandon is operating at full capacity during Roackcheck 2015 on June 2, 2015.
A weigh-station outside of Brandon is operating at full capacity during Roackcheck 2015 on June 2, 2015.

Officials also recommend drivers familiarize themselves with rules across all regulation categories. Those who neglect to do their homework could find themselves off the road. Last year, officers placed nearly five percent of those inspected out of service during Roadcheck 2014. Officers expected many would be pulled this year as well.

“On average we probably put one out of every four or five trucks or drivers out of service for violations,” Waterman said.

 

Iowa Numbers June 3, 2015

Commercial Vehicles Inspected 229
Violations Found 661
Out of Service 67
CVSA decals with no CMV violations 80