At this time last year (2017), owner-operators and trucking firms alike were preparing for the 2017 International Roadcheck planned for early June. The CVSA had made it clear that cargo control would be a priority for the annual inspection, giving the industry plenty of time to make sure things were in order. A year later, where do we stand?
The answer to that question depends on the statistics one looks at. Last year’s Roadcheck did reveal an unfortunate spike in the number of trucks and drivers found in violation. It produced the lowest number of violations since the CVSA began the annual check in 1991, yet the numbers still reflected a significant year-on-year increase.
Roughly 23% of the vehicles inspected were placed out of service in 2017. The year before, it was just 21.5%. As for drivers, 4.2% were placed out of service in 2017 as compared to 3.4% in 2016. Using those statistics as the sole arbiter does not bode well for the industry. Trucking companies and owner-operators had plenty of time to prepare for the inspection and many failed to do so.
A Better Half of 2017?
Whether or not the 2017 Roadcheck succeeded in reducing the number of cargo control violations for the rest of the year remains to be seen. We have to wait for the statistics from the third and fourth quarters to know, but hopefully, the industry had a better second half of the year.
Good cargo control, what the industry often refers to as cargo securement, begins with understanding federal and state laws. For example, federal laws mandate working load limits on all cargo control equipment including chains, winch straps, and so forth. A load can appear entirely secure but still fail a roadside inspection if the driver who secured that load exceeded working load limits on the equipment used.
The whole point of last year’s Roadcheck was to remind motor carriers and drivers of the importance of securing loads properly prior to transport. Announcing well ahead of time that cargo control would be the focus of the check gave operators plenty of time to review regulations, policies, and practices.
Those who took advantage of the warning likely managed to get through the check unscathed. Those who did not – and suffered the resulting consequences – hopefully learned a lesson moving forward. Hopefully the strict enforcement of cargo control regulations during the 2017 Roadcheck served as a reminder to the industry that watchful eyes would be paying attention to potential cargo control violations through the remainder of the year.
Will 2018 Be Better?
Though the focus of the 2018 Roadcheck is likely to be on something other than cargo control, there is little doubt that inspectors will be looking at many of the same issues they looked at in 2017. So, will 2018 results be better? That is up to motor carriers and owner-operators.
Mytee Products, an Ohio company that specializes in cargo control equipment and supplies, says that truck drivers are the best equipped for making sure loads are secured properly. They are the ones on the front lines tying cargo down; they are the ones deciding when a load is secure enough to travel; they are the ones charged with inspecting loads at various points throughout the journey.
It is no understatement to say that proper cargo control is critical for maintaining road safety. Thankfully, the trucking industry has done a very good job reducing the total number of accidents trucks are involved in every year. With any luck they will make 2018 better by paying even more attention to cargo control.