CVSA did a spot brake check day in April. Here’s what it found.

While the highways are in the middle of Safe Driver Week, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance disclosed the results of an unannounced brake safety day in April.

The spot check took place on April 25. The CVSA released a lengthy list of data on what it found on the roads that day. What matters is not just the snapshot released for the day, but also, the comparison to the prior year.

The one-day brake safety surprise check is followed by an announced Brake Safety Check week to be held in September.

Here are the key statistics and the difference with Brake Safety Day in 2017.  There are few significant changes in terms of violations.

  • Inspections: 11,531 in 2018; 7,698 in 2017.
  • Commercial vehicles put out of service for a brake-related reason: 1,595 in 2018, for 13.8% of the vehicles inspected. That number is remarkably similar to the prior year, when 14% of all inspections resulted in a vehicle being put out of service for a brake-related reason. The absolute number—1,064–was less because the total universe of inspected trucks was smaller. 
  • This year’s CVSA numbers did not report vehicles that were placed out of service for all violations. The year before, it was 22% “for violations of any kind.”
  • This year, participation included 52 jurisdictions, 41 states and 11 Canadian provinces. The split the prior year was 31 states and 11 provinces.
  • The split on the number of inspections this year was 10,074 in the U.S. and 1,457 in Canada. That was 6,361 in the U.S. and 1,337 in Canada.
  • In 2018, 86.2 percent of all commercial motor vehicles inspected “did not have any critical brake-related vehicle violations,” CVSA said. That lines up roughly with the static that had 13.8% of all vehicles being put out of service for brake violations. Similar figures were not disclosed for 2017 with the same wording as the 2018 report, but the 14% would be the equivalent number to compare to the 13.8%.

There wasn’t a lot of difference in compliance with federal regulations on antilock braking system maintenance. “Many participating jurisdictions surveyed ABS compliance,” CVSA said in its report. Without getting into the specific numbers, the side-by-side 2018-2017 reports showed that:

  • In 2018, 10.2% of air-braked trucks that had been identified as requiring ABS had ABS violations. A year earlier, it was 11%.


  • Of the trailers identified as requiring ABS, 14.3% had ABS violations this year. A year earlier, it was almost identical at 14%.
  • Of the trucks identified as requiring hydraulic-braked trucks, 3.5% had ABS violations in 2018, and 5% had them the year before.
  • The only significant change was in the relatively small sample of buses. Of those found to require ABS, 2.1% had violations this year, down from 10% the year before.

The CVSA is a cross-border organization that consists of governmental agencies charged with commercial motor vehicle safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a member of CVSA.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.