It’s time to gear up for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck. This year’s 72-hour safety event is set for May 14 – 16. During the Roadcheck, law enforcement personnel will inspect commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and drivers at weigh stations and inspection stations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Last year, the CVSA inspected nearly 60,000 CMVs and drivers during the three-day Roadcheck, placing 19.3% of vehicles and 5.8% of drivers out of service (OOS).

This year, CVSA inspectors will focus on these two areas.

1. Tractor protection systems.

Inspectors will look at your vehicle’s tractor protection valve, trailer supply valve and anti-bleed back valve. An inspector will:

  • Direct you to release all brakes by pressing dash valves
  • Ask you to carefully remove the gladhands and allow air to escape
  • Ensure air stops leaking from the supply line with at least 20 psi remaining
  • Listen and/or feel for any leaking air at the gladhand couplers on the trailer
  • Request a full-service brake application
  • Listen and/or feel for leaks from both air lines
To avoid a vehicle OOS violation, test these valves properly during your pre-trip inspections.

2. Alcohol and controlled substance possession.

The possession and use of alcohol and controlled substances remains a significant safety concern for all motorists. The number of prohibited drivers on the U.S. Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse has been increasing.

During an inspection, law enforcement personnel will:

  • Observe drivers for signs of alcohol or controlled substance use and/or impairment
  • Examine the cab and trailer for alcohol or controlled substances
  • Conduct a Clearinghouse query (U.S. drivers only)

Do not possess or be under the influence of any alcohol or controlled substances. Drivers cannot use alcohol within four hours of coming on duty. Remember that marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal U.S. regulation, and any state legalization is superseded by this. Avoid marijuana and products containing CBD. CBD is unregulated and often contains THC, which may cause a positive drug test.

In addition, drivers should take these steps to avoid the most common reasons for vehicle and driver OOS violations.

  • Conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection. Pay special attention to brake systems, service brakes, tires and lights, four of the top-five vehicle OOS violations in the U.S. last year. Also, make sure all cargo is properly secured. If you find any issues during your pre-trip inspection, file a driver vehicle inspection report (DIVR).
  • Keep your logs up to date and accurate. Hours-of-service violations and false logs were the top two driver OOS violations last year.
  • Make sure your driver’s license is current and always carry your DOT medical card with you.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck is scheduled for May 14-16, and the agency has said inspectors will focus on tractor protection systems. Specifically, inspectors will look at the tractor protection valve, trailer supply valve and anti-bleed back valve, which CVSA said are critically important vehicle components but may be overlooked during trip and roadside inspections.

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Inspectors often focus on wheel ends, which include the wheels, rims, hubs and tires on a commercial motor vehicle. Wheel-end components support the heavy loads carried by commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), maintain stability and control, and are critical for braking.

Violations involving wheel-end components historically account for about one quarter of the vehicle out-of-service violations discovered during inspection blitzes, such as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck.

“Wheel ends contain numerous moving parts, whether it is the brake system, the bearings or the hubs, that can leak, wear or seize due to lack of preventive maintenance. Wheel end systems require routine daily pre- and post-trip inspections, and a sound maintenance program is key to reducing breakdowns,” said Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance design and engineering for Penske Truck Leasing.

Wheel-end failures may lead to a catastrophic crash. “When a wheel end component fails and you have a wheel run-off situation, major damage could result,” Hough said, adding that wheel-end fires often result from brake system air leaks that prevent the brakes from completely releasing.

Completing pre- and post-trip inspections is one of the best things drivers can do to help prevent issues. “Check the wheel-end brake system for air leaks, lubricant leaks, proper adjustment, etc., and when defects are discovered, write them up and have them addressed by a qualified technician before you dispatch the unit,” Hough said.

Wheel seals, lube levels, lug nuts and brake components are among items that should be inspected daily, Hough said. Drivers’ observations during the inspection are the first step in detecting a wheel-end problem.

CVSA has said that drivers may also find abnormal or uneven tire wear, see or smell smoking or extremely hot hubcaps (too hot to touch), notice smoke from a wheel end, or feel wheel vibration, wobble or noise. Increased stopping distance or decreased braking power, abnormal side pull when braking, wheel lock-up and skidding are all signs that wheel ends may need maintenance or replacement.

During the inspection of wheel ends on a commercial motor vehicle, inspectors will:

  • Check for cracks or unseated locking rings, studs or clamps
  • Check for bent, cracked or broken rims on the inside and outside wheel rims
  • Check for loose, broken, missing or damaged wheel fasteners and elongated stud holes
  • Check spoke wheels for cracks across spokes and in the web area or slippage in the clamp areas
  • Check the hub for lubricant leaks, missing caps or plugs
  • Check the inner wheel seal for leaks
  • Check the tire and valve stem for leaks
  • Check for improper inflation, cuts and bulges on all tires, including the inside tire on a dual set
  • Check for regrooved tires on steering axle
  • Check tread wear and measure major tread groove depth
  • Inspect the sidewall for improper repairs, such as tire plugs
  • Check for exposed fabric or cord
  • Check for tire contact with any part of the vehicle or another tire
  • Check for markings on the tire that would exclude its use on a steering axle
  • Check for debris between the tires
  • Check for tires touching one another or any part

Hough added that drivers and technicians also need to be careful not to over-torque lug nuts; over-torquing will stretch the studs. “Once a wheel stud is stretched, the stud will never maintain the correct torque,” he said.

The residual damage from over-torquing a lug nut could take months to develop, but eventually will cause problems. “A bolt/stud acts as a tension/clamping device when torqued properly. If over-torqued, it loses the ability to maintain the correct clamping force,” Hough said.

Wheel-end components are essential to safety, and properly maintaining and inspecting wheel ends, which include the wheels, rims, hubs and tires on a commercial motor vehicle, is essential for over-the-road performance.

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Beginning June 7 and continuing through June 9, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will be conducting its annual International Roadcheck. The Roadcheck will see over 10,000 CVSA-certified inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections.

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Starting June 4 through June 6 the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will hold its annual Roadcheck event. This year's Roadcheck places a special focus on enforcement of traffic law violations (e.g., speeding, unsafe lane changes, etc.) in addition to inspections. Truck drivers and fleet operators may download the free CVSA checklist.

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