ATS Transportation Blog

DOT Week 2021: What you should know about blitz week this May

Oversized load shipment

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, due to these checks, capacity tightens and rates increase.

This can leave you wondering why this happens? Will it happen this year? And how can you ensure it leaves minimal impact on your supply chain? 

Here at ATS, we’ve answered these questions for years. Every spring these roadchecks throw a wrench in the plans of shippers across North America and we’re here to explain why. 

At its conclusion, this article will leave you with a better understanding of what CVSA international roadchecks are, when they will occur, how this impacts capacity and, therefore, the price you pay.

What are CVSA International Roadchecks?

Every year around this time (May-June) truckers 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, these roadchecks are administered to promote the safety of all pedestrians, drivers and shipments while on International highways. When operating at maximum efficiency, these roadchecks can historically translate to 15 trucks checked every. single. minute.

As you may suspect, the CVSA only achieves this level of efficiency by partnering with local highway patrol and commercial motor vehicle inspectors from across the United States, Canadian Provinces and Mexico. 

These roadchecks are administered for a 72-hour window of time during which truckers are flagged down and checked for vehicle and driver compliance in areas that may include the following:

  • The mechanical health of their vehicle including but not limited to:
    • Brakes
    • Engine 
    • Lights
    • Steering
    • Fuel systems 
  • Driver credentials
  • Hours of service (HOS) documentation
  • Drug/Alcohol impairment 

Although trucks may be checked for any number of these — depending on the discretion of administrative officers — the overarching goal of these checks are typically narrowed down into two main areas of focus. 

Doing so allows the CVSA, and its partners, to narrow down their compliance check into a routine investigation of a truck's core functions. This makes it easier to spark efficiency in this process. 

What will the CVSA Check For This Year?

This year - what is commonly referred to as “blitz week” in the trucking industry — will begin on Tuesday, May 4 and end on the evening of Thursday, May 6. 

During this period, trucks will be checked for compliance with:

  • Lighting system regulations
  • Hours of service (HOS) regulations

Lighting System Regulations

This compliance test will include the testing and observance of a truck’s lighting systems. From the tip of the tractor to the end of the trailer, to pass inspection, a truck driver’s lighting systems must be in full working order. 

Note, even if a truck leaves its starting point with lights in perfect condition, it’s impossible to guarantee that one of them won’t burn out during transit. This simple fact leaves truckers less motivated to move freight during this time frame. 

Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations

Hours of service are the amount of time a truck driver is allowed to be actively “on-duty” within a 24-hour timeframe. These regulations are levied by the FMCSA to promote commercial motor carrier safety. As such, all of these rules and regulations must be followed to a T. 

Although — with the adoption of electronic logging devices —these mandates have become increasingly easy to monitor, this year’s roadchecks will be another, much needed, line of defense. 


Dry van shipment at loading dock

What Happens If a Trucker is Non-Compliant?

If during these roadchecks, a truck driver is found to violate any of the regulatory mandates they’re being audited for, three actions will be taken. 

The first of these is that the driver and the freight they’re hauling must halt their progress until each discrepancy is amended. If they're missing a tail light, they’ll need to get it fixed. If they violate HOS regulations, they’ll need to rest until their clock resets. As you can imagine, this can create congestion for those shippers whose freight is impacted. 

The second thing that happens as soon as a driver is found to violate one commercial motor carrier mandate is the 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 an expired tail light — may be an indicator of deeper issues regarding the health of the vehicle and the safety practices of the carrier as a whole. 

The third — and perhaps the most impactful for the driver — thing that happens to drivers who are found to be in violation after being pulled over for a roadcheck — which can happen anywhere — is that their compliance, safety, accountability (CSA) scores are impacted. These scores are meant to distinguish carriers exhibiting safe practices from the field since those who don’t do so are plucked from the market. 

How Will This Impact Your Ability to Find Capacity?

During these 72 hours, moving freight — for a truck driver — becomes a selection between risk and reward. Since any number of things could go wrong during these service checks, a trucker is far less motivated to put their reputation — and livelihood — on the line. 

Because of this, drivers will be less apt to accept a load — especially on short notice — during these three days in May. As a result, there will be fewer trucks available to haul a shipper’s freight than there normally is. In an industry where pricing is dictated by a balance between the supply of trucks, and the demand for their services, these roadchecks — however short-lived they may be — make an impact. 

How Will This Impact The Price For Your Freight?

Because there will be fewer trucks on the road over the week of May 4-6, shippers like you could end up paying more for their urgent capacity needs. Generally, if you need to move freight over these three days, and don’t have capacity arranged preemptively, you should expect to pay more for your shipment. 

Since during this time there will be fewer drivers willing to haul freight than normal, the price they charge to do so will increase. This increase is tied to the momentary capacity shortage given that demand doesn't shrink.

How Can You Avoid Fluctuations Due to CVSA International Roadchecks?

When it comes to CVSA’s annual 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. Lengthen your delivery timing

Dry van shipment

 1. Be Aware, Plan Ahead and Communicate Your Needs

The simple fact that you are reading this article gives me confidence that when May 4 rolls around, you’ll be ready. Educate yourself on what these roadchecks are, why they’re administered and when they’re happening in your area. Note, the dates of these roadchecks are subject to change and for this reason, you must stay abreast of the newest developments in their scheduling. 

The second part of this is to plan ahead anticipating this temporary disruption and communicate your needs to your transportation provider. Tell them what you’re hoping to move during this period, how much time flexibility you have and how you’d like them to communicate with you should a problem arrive. 

Transparent communication fostered in a relationship of trust is the best hedge against supply chain deficiencies during “blitz week”.

2. Lengthen Your Delivery Timing

Often, when a driver doesn’t want to move a load during the CVSA’s annual roadcheck, they are motivated to “sit” on your load during this 72-hour period. Although this is not always possible, the more timing flexibility you can give your trucking partner during this time, the better. Doing so will not only promote their peace of mind but the overall heft of your pocketbook as well. 

Stay On Top Things During Blitz Week

Now that you have a better understanding of how CVSA International roadchecks impact the trucking industry’s capacity and rates, you’re ready for May 4. Remember to plan out your shipments in advance so that when this crucial date rolls around, everyone is on the same page. 

Additionally, bookmark this 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. 

If you would like to chat about how ATS can help you prepare for this and other potential supply chain disruptions, don’t hesitate to reach out. As always check out some more of our blogs where we shed light on other important shipping topics.

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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