DOT Blitz Week 2024: 3 Tips to Get Ready

The biggest blitz of the year by far is the CVSA International Roadcheck that occurs every May. It’s also referred to as DOT Blitz or "blitz week." The tractor, trailer, and driver are inspected as a whole, but officers hone in on a specific part of the tractor each year.

As a former truck driver, I understand the nerves you may be feeling as we quickly approach blitz week. It may even be tempting to take some time off to avoid the extra enforcement, but with some extra attention given to your truck, the blitz is nothing to stress about. In this article, you’ll get answers to the following questions:

  • What is DOT Blitz Week?
  • When is blitz week this year?
  • What are inspectors focusing on this year?
  • How can I prepare as a driver to pass the inspection?

When you know what to expect from blitz week — and how you can sail through the week unscathed and without a violation — you’ll be a lot more prepared. 

What is DOT Week?

DOT Week is the largest enforcement program in the world on commercial motor vehicles. In fact, since its implementation in 1988, nearly 2 million inspections have occurred. An estimated 15 trucks are inspected every minute during the 72-hour blitz in May. 

For 72 hours, motor vehicle inspectors and highway patrol officers conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles at weigh stations, inspection stations, and temporary inspection checkpoints. The International Roadchecks are performed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to ensure the safety of truck drivers and pedestrians on our roads. 

Officers may conduct a level one, level two, or level three inspection. During blitz week, however, the most common inspection is a level one inspection — the most thorough type of inspection that includes the officer going under the truck. 

A few of the main areas officers will be looking at include:

  • Brake system
  • Tires
  • Lights
  • Engine compartment
  • Driver paperwork (CDL, medical card, insurance, etc.)
  • Hours of Service (HOS) adherence

Officers also hone in on one or two different parts of the tractor or trailer each year during blitz week. 

Truck lined up for an inspection at a weigh station.

When is Blitz Week 2024?

Blitz week 2024 begins the morning of May 14 and ends the evening of May 16.

However, because drivers often take home time during blitz week, they’ve begun putting out extra law enforcement the week before blitz week. 

Prime example: In the eight years I drove, I was most often inspected the week prior to the blitz.

What are the Focus Areas of Blitz Week 2024?

This year, the focus of the International Roadchecks will be: 

  • Tractor protection systems
  • Alcohol and controlled substance possession 

Keep in mind: Some inspectors may only check these two areas, but you’re still subject to having your entire tractor and trailer inspected along with your driver credentials. 

Let's talk about each in turn.

Tractor Protection Systems

Primarily, inspectors will ensure the critical vehicle components of the tractor protections are being maintained, including the tractor protection valve, trailer supply valve, and anti-bleed back valve. These components are sometimes overlooked during pre-trip inspections. 

The International Roadcheck 2024 flyer states the following about the tractor protection systems:

During the inspection of tractor protection system components, the inspector will:

  • Direct the driver to release all brakes by pressing dash valves.
  • Have the driver carefully remove the gladhands and allow air to
  • Ensure the 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 by the driver.
  • Listen and/or feel for leaks from both air lines. 

Inspectors will observe the air leaking from the gladhand line. It should stop leaking from the line with at least 20 psi remaining. If not, the driver will receive an out-of-service (OOS) violation.

Inspectors will look and listen for leaking air at the gladhand couplers. If they spot a defective trailer spring-brake control valve or towing protection valve, the driver will receive a violation. A defective breakaway system on the trailer will result in an OOS violation.

Review the inspection bulletin for a system description.

Alcohol and Controlled Substances

This year's focus on alcohol and controlled substances is as much a reminder to carriers as it is to drivers. It serves to remind carriers to continuously query the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to ensure drivers aren't in the prohibited status. 

Drivers should not be in possession of alcohol or controlled substances, nor should they be under the influence of these substances. Expect inspectors to be vigilant in their monitoring and detection of these substances.

The International Roadcheck 2024 flyer states the following about controlled substance and alcohol possession: 

While checking for the presence of alcohol or controlled substances during an inspection, inspectors will:

  • Observe the driver for signs of alcohol or controlled substance
    use and/or impairment.
  • Examine the cab and trailer for alcohol or controlled substances.
  • Conduct a query in the DACH (for inspections in the U.S.).

Drivers are strictly prohibited from using alcohol or controlled substances while on duty. There should be no detectable presence of alcohol or controlled substances in your system. You shouldn't consume alcohol within four hours of starting your on-duty time.

Close up view of tires secured on a trailer.

What to Expect If It’s Your First Blitz Week

If this is your first blitz week, you might not know what to expect. As you approach a weigh station, it’s safe to assume it will be open. Also, keep your eyes open for “pop-up” inspection sites at pullovers. 

However, just because a weigh station is open doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be inspected. Keeping your truck clean and orderly is always a great way to avoid inspections. If a truck appears to be in rough shape, it’s more likely to get inspected.

If you happen to get a clean inspection either during blitz week, or before it like I often was, you’ll be fortunate enough to receive a sticker on your windshield. This communicates the clean inspection to the next weigh station you pull into, helping you avoid yet another inspection (unless something is obviously wrong with the truck or weight). 

Because of this, some drivers will request a level one inspection if they’re pulled over just before blitz week. That way, they have the sticker and a “free pass.” (Best to be certain your truck is a-okay!)

If, however, the officer finds something wrong, not only will you (possibly) receive a fine, but, you can be pulled over the next day, risking more fines and potential slowdowns. 

If you're selected for an inspection, relax, leave your seatbelt on, and listen to the officer. They will walk you through each step. 

If they find a violation, they’ll walk you through the next steps. If the violation is severe enough you may be placed Out of Service (OOS). In that case, you’ll be unable to move the truck until repairs are made. 

Regardless of the violation, the points will go on your record and will carry over to your carrier’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) score. Having too many violations on your record can significantly impact your hireability. As for your carrier, it can directly impact the customers and freight rates they can secure.

How to Prepare for CVSA International Roadcheck

There’s a reason some drivers take blitz week off. It can be stressful and even a clean inspection will add time to your day. When you’re a truck driver, time is money. However, with a little preparation, you'll survive blitz week! 

Follow these tips to prepare for blitz week: 

Plan for Downtime

When you’re trip planning during blitz week, add some wiggle room to your day. You can expect a roadside inspection to take an hour or so — longer if you have a lot of violations. 

Not only that, but you may have to wait to get inspected. It’s not uncommon to wait in line for an inspection during blitz week. 

As long as you factor some time at the scale into your trip plan, you don’t have to worry about rushing to your next destination. You’ll have already planned for it. You can expect a delay of at least one day during the blitz.

Don’t set yourself up to fail. The only thing worse than missing a drop-off or pickup because you didn’t plan ahead is making the unsafe decision to rush. 

Do Your Pre-Trip Inspections

Pre- and post-trip inspections are a crucial part of your job as a truck driver. They’re also the best thing you can do to prepare for blitz week. 

Everything you’re checking during a pre-trip inspection is what officers are checking during a level one inspection. 

A good pre-trip inspection should take you about 15 minutes or longer. You should never cut them short, but during blitz week, you really want to take your time with them. Give everything on your tractor and trailer a closer look. Give yourself time to be thorough and find potential violations (and get them fixed) before an officer finds them. 

Schedule Your Shop Appointment Now

Try to get in for preventative maintenance now, well before blitz week. If you’ve been holding off on a repair or routine maintenance, schedule it now. 

Knowing you have a clean truck going into blitz week will be a weight off your shoulders. 

Transporting a tarped and secured load on a flatbed trailer through a mountainous region.

Prepare for Brake Safety Week 

Blitz week is just around the corner this year, happening May 14-16, so do your pre-trip inspections and get your truck into the shop now for any pesky little repairs. If you notice something, say something and get it fixed. 

Extra law enforcement officers will be on the road before blitz week, so you can expect to be pulled over at any time. As long as you mind your p’s and q’s and follow the tips I provided above, you’ll get through blitz week without any trouble. There’s no need to take the week off. 

Michael Carlson

Written by Michael Carlson

Michael Carlson is a safety manager with ATS. He assists drivers, as well as the operations team, adhere to safety protocols. Before coming to ATS, he had years of hands-on safety experience. He worked for the railroad for a while before starting a career driving, where he hauled hazmat freight for eight years. Michael loves working for safety at ATS because he believes in the program. ATS has a great safety team and it takes each and every person to make the roads and the company safer.