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1 in 5 trucks on our roads have very dangerous safety violations

Commercial vehicle inspection event finds 20% of trucks today are unmaintained, out of service up from last year

I’ve written about the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) yearly Roadcheck events before, where the government organization inspects thousands of trucks across the country for safety violations.

As a lawyer, I find the  number of unsafe trucks and unsafe truck drivers that come from these Roadchecks is always staggering.

Even worse,  this is only the tip of the iceberg, as the CVSA gives the trucking industry notice of the inspection date ahead of time, so the really bad drivers can prepare and make sure the really dangerous trucks stay off the roads so they can’t be inspected. Even with the advance warning of this “pop quiz” to the delinquent students, the “teachers” still  only inspect a very small portion of the trucks on our roads today.

Our own lawyers help more people injured in truck accidents in Michigan than any other law firm, so it came as no surprise that the “out of service rates” for trucks inspected was higher than last year, at 20.9 percent. It is reflected on the cases we have in our office. And I’ve always felt that safety and maintenance are the first things to go when profits get squeezed, as they have since the recession started.

If a truck is considered “out of service,” it means that there are safety violations that are so dangerous that the truck would need to be towed away for immediate repair if it were stopped by a police officer.

These numbers are astounding. At least one in five trucks that we are driving next to with our families is so badly out of service that it would need to be towed away if it were inspected by a police officer.

According to a press release by the CVSA:

“The overall OOS rates for the entire event in 2012 (includes all inspection levels) were 20.9 percent for vehicles and 4.6 percent for drivers, both of which were higher than last year’s numbers. …  this highlights that one in five vehicles selected for inspection was found with a violation serious enough to be considered an imminent safety hazard. These mixed results indicate that, while the attention paid by industry to maintenance and regulatory compliance generally is improving, more needs to be done by industry and enforcement alike.”

Roadcheck 2012 was June 5-7. The 74,072 inspections conducted during Roadcheck included 652 inspections of passenger carrying vehicles and 4,826 inspections of vehicles carrying hazardous materials. During the event, CVSA estimates that over 9,500 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors participated at approximately 2,500 locations across the U.S.

Inspections included an examination of driver license and credentials, proper and complete records of duty status, safety belt use, driving behaviors and other driver safety conditions. Vehicles were examined for proper brake system maintenance, tire condition, function of lighting systems, properly secured loads, and other vehicle condition related violations.

The top-ranking violations for vehicles and drivers are braking systems and hours of service, according to the press release.

So next time you drive near a commercial truck, be aware that there’s, at the very least, a one in five chance that the driver could be fatigued from driving past his regulated hours, and the brakes could be defective.

–  Steven Gursten is head of Michigan Auto Law. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group, and was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Leader in the Law” for his work promoting national truck safety.

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Call (800) 777-0028 to speak with one of our truck lawyers today.

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