2023's Top Roadside Violations and How To Avoid Them

How proper maintenance can help you stay on the road

A white Penske tractor and trailer drives on a bridge.

Nearly 3 million roadside vehicle inspections took place in 2023, resulting in more than 4.5 million violations, including about 850,000 out-of-service violations. Violations can affect carriers’ Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scores and result in fines, unscheduled downtime and driver frustration.

Many of 2023’s top vehicle violations can be prevented with proper maintenance and pre- and post-trip inspections.

Lighting Violations

Lights are critical for safety and visibility but are among the most frequent roadside violations. Lighting-related violations made up three of the top ten roadside violations in 2023, with an inoperable required lamp being the No. 1 violation carriers experienced. Not far behind it were an inoperative turn signal and no or defective lighting devices or reflective material as required.

Minimizing the risk of a lighting violation can start with spec’ing LED lights, which typically have multiple diodes. Even if a portion of the diodes goes out, the light still illuminates and meets the requirement of a functioning light.

Drivers should also check all required lamps and turn signals as part of their pre- and post-trip inspections to ensure they are operative, properly mounted and not obscured in any way. During preventive maintenance (PM), technicians check all wiring, look for corrosion and ensure all lighting is in good working order.

Periodic Inspections

The second-most-common roadside equipment violation for the last fiscal year was operating a CMV without proof of a periodic inspection. Several forms of proof meet the requirement, including a decal/sticker with the name of the company that performed the inspection, along with its address and the month and year the inspection was performed. The form/document of the inspection with the same information for the decal/sticker also meets the requirement.

Brake Violations

The third-most-common roadside violation in 2023 was clamp or roto-type brakes out of adjustment. With automatic slack adjusters in vehicles, brakes are sometimes cited as being out of adjustment when they are on the verge of adjusting. To prevent that, drivers can apply the brakes several times at a high PSI level — 90 or better — when pulling into a scale.

Another way to prevent the violation is to spec air disc brakes, so brake stroke adjustment is no longer an issue.

Tire Issues

Tire-related violations comprised two of 2023’s top ten violations. One of the most critical steps in overall tire care is checking tire pressures, which can be done manually or with a tire inflation system. Tires should be inspected as part of every pre- and post-trip inspection and during PM. Additionally, tire pressure gauges should be checked periodically for accuracy and calibrated per the gauge manufacturer guidelines.

As part of its regular PM program, technicians monitor tread depth and replace tires before they hit the minimum tread depth required by the Department of Transportation. Technicians also check tires for irregular wear and ensure the vehicle is aligned properly.

Penske Truck Leasing can help customers select the right tire and tread designs for their application, operating environment and operational goals.

Other Vehicle Violations

Other top roadside violations include no/discharged/unsecured fire extinguisher, a tire that is flat and/or has an audible air leak, a tire tread depth lower than 2/32 of an inch, and windshield wipers that are inoperative/defective, which are all inspected as part of PM inspections.

Top 10 Vehicle Violations in 2023

  • Inoperable required lamp
  • Operating a CMV without proof of a periodic inspection
  • Clamp or roto-type brake out of adjustment
  • No/discharged/unsecured fire extinguisher
  • Inoperative turn signal
  • Tire: flat and/or audible air leak
  • Windshield wipers: inoperative/defective
  • No or defective lighting devices or reflective material as required
  • CMVs manufactured after 10/19/94 that have an automatic airbrake adjustment system that fails to compensate for wear
  • Tire: tread depth less than 2/32 of an inch measured in a major tread groove