DOT Blitz Week is coming up—are you excited, or dreading it?
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of DOT Blitz Week, but we’ll give it a try anyway. Since 1988, this event has been a critical part of the trucking industry’s annual calendar. Every May or June, countless trucks and other commercial vehicles are inspected for adherence to governmental rules and regulations.
While Blitz Week plays a crucial role in keeping unsafe commercial vehicles off the road, it can also cause a great deal of anxiety among fleet managers and other people in the industry. If you’re wondering how to effectively prepare for this event, read on for Fullbay’s complete guide to DOT Blitz Week.
1. It’s Not Really Called “DOT Blitz Week”
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)’s annual safety inspection event is widely known as “DOT Blitz Week,” but that title is actually a nickname.
Instead, this event is officially named “International Roadcheck”—but that’s like saying Led Zeppelin IV is an untitled album. While that may technically be true, everyone still just calls it Led Zeppelin IV.
2. It’s Not Really a Week
Believe it or not, DOT Blitz “Week” isn’t even close to a week long! This year, the event will run from May 16-18. That’s three days (or 72 hours, or 4,320 minutes) of nonstop commercial vehicle inspection.
Now that you know when 2023’s Blitz Week is happening, you’ll have a chance to prepare for this event. If you’re a fleet manager, have your trucks checked ahead of time (either internally or at a trustworthy independent shop). That way, you’ll be able to identify and resolve any potential violations well before the “week” begins.
Meanwhile, shop owners should ensure that their clients’ trucks are DOT-compliant—a service your customers will definitely be willing to pay for at this time of year. You’ll also want to prepare for a possible surge in business in early to mid-May, since procrastinators could attempt to squeeze in last-minute inspections before Blitz Week arrives.
3. It Lives Up to The Name
Remember how we said DOT Blitz Week involves “nonstop commercial vehicle inspection?” That’s not an exaggeration. On average, 15 trucks and motorcoaches are inspected during every minute of Blitz Week. That makes it a true blitz of activity for the entire North American trucking industry.
Throughout Blitz Week, CVSA-certified inspectors look closely at commercial vehicles across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Typical inspection sites include designated inspection areas, weigh stations, and roadsides.
4. It Has a Specific Focus Each Year
Have you ever arrived at a party, only to feel out of place because your outfit didn’t fit the theme?
DOT Blitz Week isn’t a party (although you’ll probably want to celebrate if your fleet gets through without any serious violations), but it does always have a “theme.” Not knowing that theme could have more serious consequences than getting a few awkward stares.
Every year, different violation categories receive extra attention during Blitz Week. For 2023, the event will focus on cargo securement and anti-lock braking systems (ABS).
There’s a good reason for that: problems with cargo securement were behind 10.6% of all vehicle out-of-service violations found during 2022’s Blitz Week. And while ABS issues aren’t considered out-of-service violations, this system plays a vital role in collision avoidance.
5. It Involves a Full Inspection
While every DOT Blitz Week has its own focus, that doesn’t mean you can afford to secure your cargo and inspect your brakes at the expense of everything else. Blitz Week inspections assess drivers and vehicles for safety compliance based on the North American Standard Level I Inspection.
Components that are typically checked during these inspections include:
- Brakes. Missing or broken brake parts, air leaks, and non-manufactured holes are just a few of the many brake issues covered by Blitz Week inspections. Pay extra-close attention to your ABS for obvious reasons—or reread the previous point if you’ve already forgotten.
- Cargo securement. During your Blitz Week inspection, inspectors will check for problems related to cargo securement. That involves looking at your tailboard, end gates, rear doors, and other truck parts involved in keeping your cargo secure. Again, pay extra-close attention here!
- Coupling devices. Coupling system woes that could spell trouble during your inspection include safety devices that aren’t strong enough to do their job, improperly-placed locking jaws, and missing fore/aft stops.
- Exhaust/fuel systems. Are you dealing with missing fuel tank caps, unsecured mounting for your exhaust system, or carbon deposits around your clamps and seams? These issues and more could cause problems in an inspection.
- Trailers. No matter what type of trailer you use, you should handle problems like frame cracks and defective or missing parts well before Blitz Week kicks off.
- Lighting. As part of your Blitz Week preparations, ensure your lamps meet DOT standards for color, mounting, visibility, and operation.
- The steering wheel. Your steering wheel needs to be fully secured and have an allowable level of lash, among other considerations.
- The suspension system. Missing springs and bolts, unsecured axle positioning parts, and axle misalignment can all cause problems for your suspension…and your inspection.
- Tires, wheels, hubs, and rims. Finally, check that your tires are correctly inflated, free of bulges and cuts, and don’t show signs of severe tread wear before Blitz Week.
This is just a brief rundown of what you can expect during your DOT Blitz Week inspection. Refer to the CVSA’s official inspection cheat sheet for a more in-depth overview.
6. You Get a Prize…Sort Of
Ensuring that your fleet complies with CVSA inspection standards takes a lot of hard work, so you’re probably hoping for a reward when everything is said and done. The good news is that you’ll get one…depending on how you define the term “reward.”
If the trucks in your fleet pass an inspection without any critical violations, they’ll receive a super-cool CVSA decal that’s valid for the next three months. That is to say, you’ll get the “prize” of not being fined and not having your trucks taken off the road for violations. Yay?
Prepare for DOT Blitz Week with Fullbay
No matter what part of the trucking industry you’re involved with, DOT Blitz Week (and the lead-up to this event) can be a challenging time of year. If you’re a fleet manager, you’ll need to prepare your trucks for inspections while keeping up with everyday operations. Meanwhile, heavy-duty repair shops should gear up for a welcome—but potentially overwhelming—increase in business before, during, and after Blitz Week.
That’s where we step in to help you prepare for DOT Blitz Week without extra stress. With our tools, fleet managers can keep track of upcoming preventive maintenance appointments and DOT inspections the easy way. Meanwhile, shop owners can use our customer communication features to send out reminders about Blitz Week and give every truck a thorough inspection.
Don’t put it off until the day before DOT Blitz Week. Schedule a demo today!