The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance issued new guidance earlier this fall dissuading enforcement officials from waking up sleeping drivers in order to perform random inspections.
The guidance came in the form of an update to the CVSA’s Operational Policy 13, which aims to provide individual jurisdictions with a framework to create vehicle inspection policies.
“Certified inspectors shall not disturb/interrupt any driver of a commercial motor vehicle in off-duty or sleeper berth status when legally parked for the purpose of conducting a random inspection,” the new guidance reads.
While the policy is neither legally binding nor exhaustive, it gives enforcement officials a good idea of where the CVSA stands on the issue. The new guidance does not reflect a change of views, it is simply the first time the organization has officially weighed in on the issue, according to CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney.
“That has always been our MO within our program, however, we’ve heard through the industry over the years that this has been an issue, which surprises me because it was never meant to be something we encouraged through our inspection program,” he said. “We’ve never really had it documented anywhere saying, ‘Hey, this is not advisable.’ Now we’ve put it in policy, so if we do come across a specific situation, inspectors will be aware of it.”
Mooney made it clear that the new guidance does not discourage enforcement officials from waking up drivers who are parked illegally and telling them to move their vehicles to a legal location.
“The policy is not for cases where a driver is parked on the side of the road illegally and needs to be awoken to move and allowed to move under personal conveyance,” he said. “This is for when a vehicle is at a safe location where overnight parking is permitted.”
While the CVSA encourages individual jurisdictions to comply with the new guidance, drivers are not at risk of violating hours of service regulations if an inspection is performed while they are in off-duty status.
“The FMCSA has covered some of that, where now it’s permissible, when you’re under the direction of an enforcement official, that you can operate and move the vehicle under personal conveyance. So, that specific issue has been addressed to give not only the drivers, but the law enforcement community some cover, like for those who are parked illegally, for example. But this policy was not put in place for that type of a situation. It is for when they are parked legally, getting some rest,” Mooney said.
While Mooney said he has heard people talking about inspectors waking up drivers for inspections, he does not know of any specific incidents and cannot be sure how common the issue is on the road.
“I’m unaware of a very specific incident, but I keep hearing a lot of hearsay and comments with people saying this actually happens,” he said. “I’m unable to track it back to a very specific scenario, so I don’t know how big of a problem this is or whether it’s just a bunch of noise within the industry, but either way, there was no harm in us putting a policy together.”