Today marks the kickoff of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's annual Roadcheck, a 72-hour blitz of comprehensive North American Standard (NAS) Level I inspections and other related roadside enforcement activities.
This morning, DOT's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro was on the scene at Roadcheck's international headquarters, FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Also attending were Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and Research and Innovative Technology Administrator Peter Appel.
Every year Roadcheck mobilizes thousands of federal, state, provincial and local inspectors at more than 1,500 locations. And those locations are in every state and province in North America--including Canada and Mexico.
"From sun-up this morning until sundown Thursday," Administrator Ferro announced, "more than 70,000 truck inspections will be performed. Every major component of the truck or bus will be examined, including brakes, lights, and tires."
But because FMCSA studies show that drivers play a role in nearly nine out of ten fatal large-truck crashes, drivers are also a critical part of Roadcheck. So drivers will be asked to show their Commercial Driver's License, their medical examiner's certificate, and their record of duty status.
Last year, CVSA rallied 9,683 certified inspectors at 2,145 locations, and counted a record 72,255 truck and bus inspections--56,486 of which were NAS Level I, the most comprehensive roadside inspection. And, although last year's results showed significant declines in vehicle and driver violations, FMCSA reports that Roadcheck saved 17 lives and avoided 307 injuries.
As Administrator Mendez said this morning:
"It’s our job to create a driving environment where everyone who shares a road – whether it’s the biggest 18 wheeler, the smallest family car, or a bicycle -- can do so safely. The statistics show that we’re succeeding. Last year, the number of highway fatalities reached their lowest level in more than 50 years."
Last year's Roadcheck data supports that claim. 2009 Roadcheck inspections showed the highest overall vehicle compliance rate—80.4%—since 1996, and the highest overall driver compliance rate—95.7%—ever, but I know we can do better and make our roads even safer.
For example, RITA Administrator Peter Appel pointed out, "One way of making our roads safer is through Intelligent Transportation Systems. These systems will help commercial drivers avoid situations that lead to crashes."
He added that, "The same ITS platform that supports safety benefits will also lead to other applications to improve trucking efficiency--such as wireless roadside inspections."
But until that day arrives, we can count on CVSA's Roadcheck.
The intensity of "Roadcheck" sends a strong message to commercial truck and bus motor carriers and their employees: “Be accountable to yourself, your employer, and others on the road to help make sure we all get to our destinations safely.”
What I respect most about that message is that it comes from within the trucking community; it's not DOT or FMCSA telling this to carriers and drivers. That's the kind of internal reinforcement that keeps our roads safe.
Administrator Ferro also made a point of thanking the many enforcement officers whose work makes Roadcheck possible:
"Each and every day--whether you see them or not--thousands of highly trained safety inspectors are removing unsafe truck and bus drivers and unsafe vehicles from the highways. We are grateful to you for the important role you play in keeping our roads safe."
I want to echo her gratitude and urge them to keep up the good work.
And, like Administrator Ferro, I want to urge drivers to make sure their vehicles are maintained in safe condition, their seat belts are buckled, and their eyes and minds are on the road.
Finally, I urge the public to treat these working drivers with the respect and courtesy they deserve and their large vehicles with the extra caution they require.
Let's all share the road safely.