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Michael Leizerman
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FMCSA: Roadside Inspections and Traffic Enforcement Activities Saved Nearly 500 Lives in 2012

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Woman inspecting flatbed truck

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently released an annual analysis that claims to demonstrate the effectiveness of roadside safety inspection and traffic enforcement programs.

“Over the last several decades, we’ve made tremendous strides in reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries on our nation’s roadways,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The roadside safety inspection and traffic enforcement programs exemplify our commitment to continue to raise the bar on safety and build upon our progress.”


  • Since 2001, these programs have saved more than 7,000 lives.
  • Nearly 9,000 injuries prevented from more than 14,000 crashes in 2012
  • 472 lives saved in 2012 thanks to roadside safety inspection and traffic enforcement programs

“We should recognize the essential role played by thousands of carriers and millions of professional truck and bus drivers on the road every day who understand the importance of protecting the safety of the traveling public while also doing their part to move the economy,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Our analysis demonstrates that inspectors at roadside and state troopers conducting traffic enforcement are making a vital difference to prevent crashes. In addition, the truck and bus industries are working every day to comply with federal safety regulations designed to make sure that everyone reaches their destination safe and sound.”


The vast majority of these roadside safety inspections are conducted by the states. More than 3.5 million such inspections are conducted every year. Commercial vehicles that fail inspection are immediately placed out-of-service and not allowed to potentially endanger the lives of the drivers and of the motoring public. Similarly, commercial drivers who are not compliant with critical safety requirements are also immediately placed out-of-service and not allowed to continue driving.

Roadside inspections adhere to North American Standard (NAS) protocols, which, in close collaboration with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), are regularly updated. FMCSA’s National Training Center (NTC), in coordination with CVSA, conducts frequent inspector training programs throughout the country to certify new inspectors or allow individuals to obtain expertise in areas such as hazardous materials safety.


The commercial vehicle traffic enforcement program is another safety program that is composed of two distinct activities: 1) a traffic stop by a law enforcement officer as a result of a moving violation, and 2) a subsequent roadside inspection. To help support the majority of traffic enforcement officers across the country that do not possess commercial vehicle safety inspection certification, FMCSA has created a Large Truck and Bus Traffic Enforcement Training program. The free training is designed to enhance law enforcement officers’ knowledge about the dangers of unsafe commercial vehicle driving and is formatted to be delivered either on-line as a one-hour, instructor-led training or divided into short segments for delivery during roll-call.


The agency developed RIEM as a tool to annually analyze and measure the effectiveness of these roadside safety inspections and traffic enforcement programs and activities in terms of crashes avoided, injuries prevented, and lives saved. In this model, roadside safety inspections and traffic enforcements are considered interventions.

As a result of these interventions, unsafe trucks and buses and unsafe commercial drivers are removed from the roadway and/or fined. The ultimate focus is to change behavior by the carrier and/or the commercial driver to operate in compliance with federal safety regulations leading to a reduction in crashes involving commercial motor vehicles.

The RIEM tool associates each violation of FMCSA’s safety regulations with a specific crash probability. Using these probabilities, analysts can estimate the number of crashes avoided as a result of correcting these violations.

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Article by Truck Accident Attorney Michael Leizerman