Every year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration (CVSA) conducts its annual international road checks, also known as DOT Week or DOT Blitz. How does this crucial safety week affect both carriers and shippers?
DOT Week 2023
What’s in the article:
What DOT Week is
The focus of the 2023 DOT Blitz
What to expect and how to prepare for DOT Week
Although beneficial, the event often results in temporary supply chain disruptions. But being aware of the timing, understanding the cause, and knowing what to expect allows shippers to plan for and avoid potentially negative logistical impacts.
What is DOT Week?
DOT Week is a three-day annual event designed to promote the safety of all pedestrians, drivers, and shipments on international highways.
This event, scheduled for May 16-18, 2023, is known to be the largest commercial motor vehicle enforcement program in the world. During the 72-hour period, an average of almost 15 trucks and motor coaches are inspected every minute. In fact, there have been more than 1.8 million inspections completed during DOT Weeks since the event’s inception in 1988.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico all participate during DOT Week to ensure safety across North America and its borders. The CVSA conducts road checks at various inspection or weigh stations, through roaming patrols, and at temporary inspection sites. These inspections are initiated by officials flagging down truckers to check vehicle maintenance and driver compliance in areas like the mechanical health of their vehicle, driver credentials, hours of service (HOS) compliance and documentation, proper permitting, and drug or alcohol impairment.
What is the Focus of the DOT Blitz in 2023?
To streamline inspections during DOT Week, CVSA designates two main inspection elements to focus on each year. This year, the areas of focus are anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and cargo securement.
ABS is essential for preventing accidents, especially when braking at high speeds, so these systems must function properly on every commercial motor vehicle. That’s why it’s recommended that truck drivers perform ABS audits during their pre-and post-trip inspections by ensuring the ABS dashboard light is working properly.
Nearly 11 percent of the out-of-service violations during blitz week last year were due to poor cargo securement. And freight securement is historically one of the five most common violations handed out during the DOT Blitz each year. Poorly secured cargo puts the vehicle and truck drivers on the road at risk, so it’s critical that drivers check that freight is properly secured before moving it and while in transit.
How Does the CVSA International Roadcheck Week Affect Carriers?
Due to the potentially comprehensive nature of an inspection, it’s essential that truck drivers ensure their truck, trailer, documentation, and cargo are entirely compliant with safety regulations. Although this is always true, it’s critical during the three-day event. At times it may be easier said than done since conditions can change while in transit, regardless of how diligent drivers are.
There are many potentially negative outcomes of violations found during road checks such as:
- The driver and their freight must immediately cease their progress until the discrepancy is resolved, typically causing shipment delays in addition to any delays created by the inspection itself.
- Identification of a single violation typically leads to a more extensive inspection, also creating a longer delay.
- An out-of-service (OOS) violation given to drivers found to be non-compliant, adds two points to the driver’s compliance, safety, accountability (CSA) scorecard for three years. This directly affects the driver’s reputation and the carrier’s CSA score as well.
What Should Shippers Expect During DOT Week?
Due to the potentially negative impacts on drivers’ schedules and reputations, many drivers choose to take a vacation on the days of the Blitz or for the entire week when the DOT event occurs. This leads to fewer trucks on the road and a decrease in available capacity making it more difficult to find a truck to move your load.
As a result, shippers should expect:
- Longer turnaround times due to the potentially long stops associated with road check inspections.
- Long-distance routes to be impacted more than local routes.
- Drivers to be less likely to accept or service loads with short notice
- Higher rates due to reduced capacity.
And it’s important to remember that the impact of delays caused by DOT Week will bleed over into the following week as carriers get caught up on backlogged demand. So, be patient.
Prepare for the DOT Blitz
You can avoid the potential disruptions of DOT Week by being aware, planning ahead, and communicating your freight needs.
This event is scheduled well in advance, so plan to check for the exact date early in the year. Then you can plan to communicate your freight transportation needs to your shipping provider(s).
If you must move freight around the timeframe of DOT Week, your ability to offer some flexibility on pick-up and drop-off dates will significantly improve the rates you receive.
Having a knowledgeable freight shipping partner with many established relationships is a great strategy for successfully navigating the impacts of times like DOT Week.