The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck (commonly referred to as DOT Week or DOT Blitz) hits North American highways at midnight, June 4. Though the market is currently looser than the past couple years, shippers may experience some related capacity crunches.
Here is everything you need to know about the International Roadcheck and a few tips for mitigating disruptions.
How DOT Week Can Affect Your Supply Chain
The International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world. Over the course of three days (June 4-June 6), officials in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will conduct an average of 17 vehicle inspections per minute (67,603 in 2018, a 9% increase from 2017). Each year has a different theme—2019 will feature an emphasis on steering and suspension systems.
Every year thousands of drivers opt to take a few vacation days with the family instead of a few hours at a roadside check with a state trooper. Keep in mind that many thousands more will operate as normal, but there will be a dip in available capacity.
If an inspector finds anything amiss, from worn tire treads and busted tail lights to Hours of Service and licensing violations, the carrier is subject to fines, downgraded safety rating, and/or being put out-of-service until the issue is resolved. In 2018, 21.6% of commercial motor vehicles and 3.9% of drivers that received an inspection were placed out of service.
Carrier fines can total thousands of dollars per occurrence, a downgraded safety rating may limit the freight a carrier is eligible to haul while raising their insurance rates, and being placed out of service is a huge hit to a carrier’s productivity and service. A vast majority of trucks on the road have no reason to fear an inspection, but with the increased level of scrutiny, some drivers don’t think the risk is worth the reward.
What Shippers Should Expect
1) Capacity will probably be tighter.
Most carriers will operate as usual, but some drivers will opt to park their trucks for a few days.
2) Routing guide compliance may deteriorate.
As drivers call off, the chances increase that a carrier will give back a load. Local and regional hauls will probably be less affected, while lanes around 500-600 miles will be at a comparatively higher risk.
3) The spot market may be more expensive.
With carrier supply likely to decrease and demand to remain constant, spot rates may inflate. That said, with the market currently in a deflationary environment, there is likely enough excess carrier capacity to dampen any major effect on spot rates.
4) Drivers may be late.
There is a decent chance a driver hauling your freight will be pulled over. A majority of the inspections are Level I, which entails a rigorous 37-point look over. If you think taking your shoes off at airport security takes a while… trucks are really big, and 37 is a lot of points.
5) This won’t be confined to a region.
International Roadcheck is a continent-wide event, affecting carriers and shippers everywhere.
6) The market won’t return to normal at 12:01 on Friday.
Yes, more drivers will reenter the capacity pool, but some will elect to take the entire week off, while others will still be temporarily out-of-service from DOT violations. Simultaneously, any freight that didn’t get picked up during Roadcheck will roll to Friday’s board. Again, with the current truckload market environment, the risk of major disruption is smaller compared to last year.
What Shippers Can Do to Limit DOT Week Disruption
Just because the spot market is more forgiving than 2018, there are still a few best practices shippers can take to mitigate risk.
Drivers may be delayed. Try to be accommodating where possible.
Ensure your transits are DOT compliant.
If you have a load scheduled with unrealistic transit, you’re going to have a harder time moving it off your dock this week. Pay extra attention to lanes with 500-600 miles and be sure to account for reasonable loading and unloading.
Communicate layover accessorials.
With all the inspections and potential for delays, drivers want to know they will be paid for their time in the event they get tied up and have to deliver the next day. A fair policy makes a shipment more attractive.
Be flexible when possible.
If you have to put your shipment on the spot market and options are high, ship it next week.
The International Roadcheck will contribute to a tighter capacity market, but it doesn’t bring the nation’s supply chain to a grinding halt. A vast majority of carriers will operate as normal, and most shipments will pick up and deliver as planned.
Need help mitigating risk during the busy summer shipping months?
Coyote has the massive centralized marketplace and multi-modal solutions portfolio to help.