DOT Week 2023: What You Should Know About Blitz Week This May

If you’re a shipper wondering how this year’s round of Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration (CVSA) International Roadchecks will impact your freight, you’re in the right place. Every year at this time, the CVSA’s Roadchecks cause overall available truck capacity to tighten and freight rates to rise.

In observance of this, you’re likely wondering why this happens, whether it will happen again this year and, perhaps most importantly, what you can do to ensure International Roadchecks leave a minimal impact on your supply chain this May. 

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’ve answered these, and questions like these, for decades now. Every spring international roadchecks throw a wrench in the plans of shippers across North America and we’re here to explain why. 

Below you’ll find a comprehensive overview of “blitz week,” broken down as follows:

At its conclusion, this article will leave you with a better understanding of what CVSA International Roadchecks are, when they will occur, and how they impact nearly every North American supply chain. 

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What Are CVSA International Roadchecks?

Every year around this time (May-June), motor carriers and truck drivers across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are audited on their adherence to governmental commercial vehicle rules and regulations. These audits are administered by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration — a close companion of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

At their core, International Roadchecks are administered to promote the safety of all pedestrians, drivers and shipments while on International highways. 

By partnering with local highway patrol and commercial motor vehicle inspectors from across the U.S., Canadian Provinces and Mexico, the CVSA conducts International Roadchecks at various inspection/weigh stations, via roaming patrols and at temporary inspection checkpoints. 

Administered for a 72-hour window of time, during which truckers are flagged down and checked for vehicle maintenance and driver compliance practices, International Roadchecks assess drivers in areas that may include any of the following:

  • The mechanical health of their vehicle, including but not limited to:
    • Brakes
    • Engines 
    • Lights
    • Steering functions
    • Fuel systems
    • Cargo securement
  • Driver credentials
  • Hours of service (HOS) adherence and documentation
  • Drug/Alcohol impairment
  • Proper permitting (where applicable)

Although trucks may be checked for any number of these — depending on the discretion of administrative officers — the overarching goals of these checks are typically narrowed down to a main area of focus (or two) each year, targeting a single or pair of roadside inspection elements. Doing so helps the CVSA, and its partners, expedite their compliance checks, turning them into routine investigations of a truck's core functions.

When operating at maximum efficiency, yearly International Roadchecks have historically been able to pull over and assess 15 semi-trucks every. single. minute.


When is DOT Blitz Week in 2023?

This year — what is commonly referred to as “blitz week” in the trucking industry — will begin in the morning on Tuesday, May 16 and end the evening of Thursday, May 18. 

What is the Focus of the 2023 International Roadchecks?

This year, the International Roadchecks will have two main focus areas. Primarily, in 2023, the CSVA and its partner jurisdictions will be focused on inspecting each commercial motor vehicle's. . . 

  1. Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  2. Cargo securement

ABS Inspection Details

While they're not out-of-service violations, ABS violations are important for drivers to avoid and monitor closely. Since ABS is paramount in preventing accidents, particularly when braking at high speeds, these systems must be in working order on every commercial motor vehicle. 

To ensure they're safely operating, truck drivers should perform ABS audits during their pre- and post-trip inspections, checking that the ABS dashboard light is functioning properly. 

This year's blitz week will feature an inspection of each semi truck's ABS system to verify it's in working order.  


Here are the primary pieces of this year's ABS inspections:

  • Law enforcement will determine whether ABS is required on the vehicle(s).
  • Law enforcement will verify that the ABS lamp cycles on and off for all ABS required vehicles during the diagnostic check. 
  • Law enforcement will check for indications of an ABS malfunction.

Cargo Securement Inspection Details

Last year, poor cargo securement accounted for nearly 11 percent of the out-of-service violations law enforcement handed out during blitz week. Historically, freight securement ranks among the top five most common International Roadcheck violations. 

Since poorly secured cargo poses a serious risk to the motoring public and truck drivers, it's important that freight securement is checked multiple times before and during transit. After years of cargo-securement issues popping up during blitz week, the CVSA has decided to inspect this problem area more thoroughly, making it a second focus of this year's Roadcheck. 

Here are the details surrounding the cargo-securement portion of the 2023 International Roadchecks:

  • Inspectors will ensure spare tires, loads, cargo and dunnage are secured and prevented from falling, blowing, spilling or leaking from the vehicle, or rolling or shifting in transit.
  • Inspectors will confirm there are enough tiedowns for the weight and length of the items being transported.
  • Inspectors will check for defective securement devices (e.g., loose, torn, damaged, bent, knotted tiedowns).
  • Inspectors will examine anchor points and structures for damage.
  • Inspectors will verify cargo is secured in accordance with commodity-specifc regulations.

Download the CVSA's 2023 International Roadcheck Flyer here

Note: Even though ABS is one primary focus of 2023’s Roadcheck, issues in this arena often prompt further vehicle inspections to be conducted at the discretion of law enforcement.

As such, in addition to the inspection of wheel-end components, drivers should also expect to be assessed on general equipment maintenance like:

  • Lights
  • Braking systems
  • Hours of service (HOS) logs
  • Permits (where applicable) 

Needless to say, all truck drivers will want to ensure their truck, trailer, documentation and cargo are fully compliant with safety regulations over this three-day period. 

However, this is easier said than done; even if a driver leaves their starting point with perfect securement, it’s impossible to guarantee that something won’t occur during transit

This simple fact leaves truck drivers far less motivated to move freight during “blitz” week. 

What Happens If a Driver is Non-Compliant?

During these Roadchecks, if a truck driver is found to violate any of the regulatory mandates they’re being audited for, three actions will be taken

First, the driver and the freight they’re hauling must immediately halt their progress until each discrepancy is amended. If they're missing bolts or a hubcap, they’ll need to get those things fixed. If they’re discovered to be in violation of HOS regulations, they’ll need to rest until their “clock” resets. 

As you might imagine, the prolonged delays caused by non-compliant carriers over “blitz week” can be harmful to the schedules of trucking companies and shippers/consignees alike. 

The second thing that happens once a driver is found to violate one commercial motor carrier mandate is an immediate examination for further violations. In the trucking industry, an industry that must maintain safety standards, unsafe practices don’t go unchecked. As such, a single violation — be it a set of loose bolts or otherwise — may be an indicator of deeper issues with the health of a vehicle and/or the safety practices of a carrier. 

The third thing that happens to drivers who are found to be in violation following a road check (which can happen anywhere) is perhaps most impactful

You see, drivers that are found to be non-compliant are given an out-of-service (OOS) violation. OOS violations directly impact each motor carrier’s compliance, safety, accountability (CSA) scores — a scale indicating their overall safety “rating.” 

Truck drivers are each given individualized CSA scores. Any violations they incur — and the points associated with them — remain on a driver’s CSA scorecard for three years, affecting their reputation all the while. 

Failing an International Roadcheck and receiving an OOS violation is a two-point violation for that driver.

Related Content: What is a CSA Score and Why Should I Worry About It?

How Will “Blitz Week” Impact Your Ability to Secure Truck Capacity?

During these 72 hours, moving freight becomes an activity posing both risk and reward for trucking companies and their drivers. Since any number of things could go wrong during inspection, drivers are far less motivated to put their reputation — and livelihood — on the line. 

Drivers will be less apt to accept/service loads — especially on short notice — during these three days in May. So, expect to deal with the realities stemming from a drop-off in the number of viable transportation solutions for your load (i.e. longer turnaround times, fewer options and. . . higher prices).


How Will This Impact The Price of Moving Your Freight?

Because there will be fewer trucks on the road over the week of May 16-18, shippers, like you, may end up paying more to secure transportation capacity.

In an industry where pricing is influenced by the relationship between the supply of transportation solutions and the overall demand for these services in a particular area, International Roadchecks make an impact by removing a large portion of “supply” from this equation. 

Demand for transportation services, however, won’t subside over these three days — leading trucking companies to charge more than they would in normal conditions. 

As a result, if you’re unable to steer your shipments clear of this three-day window — by shipping before or after it — you’ll pay a pretty penny to move them over “blitz week.”

2 Ways to Avoid Disruptions Caused By CVSA International Roadchecks

When it comes to the CVSA’s International Roadchecks and their impact on your supply chain this year, here are two easily-employable keys to success:

  1. Be aware, plan ahead and communicate your needs
  2. Offer flexibility to your trusted carriers

 1. Be Aware, Plan Ahead and Communicate Your Needs

The simple fact that you are reading this article gives me confidence that when May 16 rolls around, you’ll be ready. However, make sure to educate yourself on what these Roadchecks are, why they’re administered and when they’re happening in your area. 

The dates of the International Roadchecks are subject to change. For this reason, you must stay abreast of the latest developments in their scheduling. 

Additionally, it’s important that you plan ahead by anticipating this temporary disruption and communicating your needs to your transportation provider(s).

Be sure to reach out to carriers and explain what you’re hoping to move during this period, how much flexibility you have on your time/deadline requirements and how you’d like them to communicate with you should a problem arise. 

In the pursuit of an unblemished supply chain throughout “blitz week,” transparent communication with each of your trusted providers will be your greatest ally. 


2. Offer Flexibility to Your Trusted Carriers

Sometimes, when drivers don’t want to move freight during the CVSA’s annual Roadcheck, they are motivated to avoid this 72-hour period. 

Though it might not always be possible, allowing your carrier some flexibility on pick/drop dates during this time will significantly improve the freight rates you receive

Ask your trusted partners how they plan to operate over the week of May 16-18 and consider allowing them to add your freight to their schedules as they see fit. 

Though the best carriers have no reason to worry about non-compliance, trucking companies always appreciate some lenience — especially in times of congestion (as “blitz week” so often is).   

In the end, the more timing flexibility you can give carriers during this time, the better. If nothing else, try to avoid holding to rigid pickup/drop appointments over this three-day stretch, which forces carriers into less-than-ideal situations. 

Related Content: 4 Out-Of-The-Box Ways to Save Money On Your Freight Rates

Stay On Top Things This Year!

Now that you have a better understanding of how CVSA International Roadchecks impact the trucking industry — including how the capacity shortage accompanying them impacts service levels and freight rates — you’re better prepared for May 16. 

Don’t forget to bookmark the “News” page on Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration’s website so that you can easily access information regarding this year’s checks and stay up-to-date on future Roadcheck schedules. 

Finally, here at Anderson Trucking Service, we’re proud to offer shippers, like you, ample resources for perfecting their transportation processes. And, in an industry that’s less than forgiving on under-prepared businesses, we know how impactful a little extra help can be. 

If you’re interested in staying abreast of the latest transportation industry information and content, produced by our in-house experts multiple times per week, subscribe to our Learning Hub notifications today. Or, for some insights into how ATS can help you manage your transportation supply chain going forward, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to assist you in any way you need.

Tags: Safety, Freight Brokerage, Flatbed Shipping, Oversized Shipping, Multimodal Shipping, Project Logistics

Josh Porwoll

Written by Josh Porwoll

Since his first day with ATS back in Nov. 2007, Josh has found success in a number of roles. Following his 5 year stint as a national carrier representative, Josh transitioned into the role of operations manager in ATS's logistics division. Today, Josh is the director of operations and continually strives to create lasting relationships with customers and carriers alike.

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