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Roadside truck inspections: Are inspectors becoming overwhelmed?

Imagine for a moment that you're a California inspector of commercial trucks, working at one of the state's many roadside facilities.

That job would be demanding, right? Today's commercial rigs, like tractor-trailers and 18-wheel transports, are virtual giants on the road and possessed of constantly evolving technology aimed at keeping them accident-free and safe for smaller passenger vehicles on state and national roadways.

An inspector's job focuses widely across many dimensions relating to trucking safety. Those encompass inspection of braking and hydraulic systems, scrutiny of maintenance logs and examination into loading capacity and transported weight. An inspector must focus on drivers, too, checking their logs and seeking to ensure that they are abiding by regulations pertaining to sleep, hours on the road and more.

What happens if there are simply so many rules and regulations -- and, particularly, an accretion of exemptions relating to trucking mandates -- that an inspector is hard pressed to keep track of them?

As noted in an article on commercial truck inspections and attendant safety considerations, one prominent safety-focused group believes that an excess of promulgated exemptions is proving to be an overwhelming exaction for many inspectors.

Put another way: Increasingly more inspectors simply can't stay abreast of an ever-increasing amount of exemptions relating to trucks and drivers.

And the result of that, notes the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is clearly adverse for the promotion of safety on roads across the country.

If an inspector is confused about a particular exemption, states s CVSA principal, he or she "is more apt to skip citing the potential violation, thus reducing the effectiveness and safety benefit of the regulations."

That is certainly worrisome. The CVSA has asked federal safety regulators to strongly focus on the matter.

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