Staff writer Ben Benton of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Thursday, April 12, 2008, on the statistics from the Tennessee Industry Road Block at Monteagle, Tennessee. The Roadblock was run by the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Commercial Vehicle Division. The results?

  1. 2310 Trucks went through the inspection site in the time the roadblock was set up.
  2. 41 trucks were inspected (my calculation shows that is 1.8 percent of the trucks)
  3. 12 trucks were removed from the road (apparently for mechanical/equipment issues)
  4. 3 drivers were removed from the road for violations (typically hours of service violations but the article didn’t say)

Thus out of 41 trucks inspected 15 were on the road in violation of regulations ranging from being overweight (which means the truck can’t stop as fast as a properly loaded truck and other problems associated with exceeding the design capacity of the truck) to an airline problem which could eliminate braking capacity for a tractor trailer (truck brakes are typically air brakes). This is a 36.5% failure rate of inspected trucks.

What does a 36.5% failure rate mean? The article states "more than 9 million trucks" pass through Tennessee. Given that number, and a 36.5% failure rate, that means 3,285,000 trucks IN TENNESSEE ALONE shouldn’t be on the road. Perhaps what is worse a trucking company official, who was also present with Mr. Benton and quoted for the article, stated "Everything the Troopers do on inspections is what the driver should do every morning before he leaves." This means the companies either fail to train the drivers in how to do a proper FMCSR pretrip inspection or the company has fostered a safety attitude that allows the driver to believe he can get away with a poor inspection.

The implications for Tennessee, and the rest of the country, are serious. Trucking companies must crack down on safety issues within their fleets before more tragedies occur. It is far cheaper to conduct a proper inspection than it is to deal with litigation after a collision caused by a problem that should have been corrected before the truck left the terminal.