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 these road checks 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:
- What are CVSA international roadchecks?
- What will the CVSA check for this year?
- What happens if a driver is found to be non-compliant?
- How will “blitz week” impact your ability to secure truck capacity?
- How will these International Roadchecks impact freight rates?
- 2 tips for avoiding disruption caused by CVSA Roadchecks.
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.
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:
- Steering functions
- Fuel systems
- 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 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.
What Will the CVSA Check For This Year?
This year — what is commonly referred to as “blitz week” in the trucking industry — will begin in the morning on Tuesday, May 17 and end the evening of Thursday, May 19.
During this three-day period, semi-trucks and drivers will have their wheel-end components checked.
Wheel-End Inspection Details
As defined by the CVSA, “wheel-end components support the heavy loads carried by commercial motor vehicles, maintain stability and control, and are critical for braking.”
Year after year, issues with wheel-end components have contributed to one-fourth of all violations at International Roadchecks — making them a prime candidate for inspection this time around.
Wheel-end compliance exercises will include the observance and assessment of a semi-truck and trailer’s wheel-related maintenance/health. To pass inspection, all wheels must be in full working order, in accordance with the conditions outlined by the FMCSA.
The wheel-related assembly regulations that will be checked for this year include:
- Wheels and rims cannot be broken or cracked.
- Stud and/or bolt holes cannot be “elongated” (no longer round).
- Bolts and nuts cannot be “loose.”
- Tread depth on a tractor’s steer tires must be no less than 4/32 inches.
- Tread depth on all remaining tires must be no less than 2/32 inches.
Note: even though wheel-end maintenance and condition(s) are the primary focus of 2022’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:
- Braking systems
- Load securement
- Hours of service (HOS) logs
- Permits (where applicable)
Needless to say, all truck drivers will want to ensure their trucks and trailers are fully compliant with all safety regulations over this three-day period.
However, this is easier said than done; even if a driver leaves their starting point with wheels in perfect condition, it’s impossible to guarantee that damage 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 these service checks, 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 17-19, 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:
- Be aware, plan ahead and communicate your needs
- 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 17 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 17-19 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 17.
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.