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Any company that has a fleet, considers the safety of their drivers a top priority, and for good reason. Vehicle accidents are costly on multiple levels, like repairs, loss of productivity, and damage to your company’s reputation. That’s why having an effective fleet safety program is so important. When you focus on safety, you will not only see results in how your fleet performs day-to-day, but also in other critical aspects of your business.
An important component of overall fleet safety is a vehicle and driver’s ability to pass planned and unplanned inspections. That’s why every fleet has a CSA (Compliance, Safety and Accountability) profile as part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) “data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program designed to improve safety and prevent commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities.”1
Managing your fleet’s CSA profile is an essential element of an effective and proactive safety program, especially when your vehicles are facing a roadside inspection. During an inspection, vehicles, accessories, and drivers are scrutinized to ensure that they are safe to be on the road. The data that goes into your profile and individual vehicle BASIC scores also come from that inspection performance.
How CSA and BASIC scores can affect your fleet
Getting positive scores on the inspection parameters is critical to keeping vehicles safe on the road, and can have a ripple effect on many other aspects of your fleet. There are multiple factors that go into a fleet’s total scores: 1) the Safety Measurement System, which uses data from roadside inspections and crash reports from the last two years; 2) interventions; and 3) a Safety Fitness Determination rating system.1
In addition to the CSA score, individual fleet roadside inspection performance BASIC scores are applied around a number of categories, including:1
- Safe driving (no texting, speeding, handheld cell phone use, reckless driving, etc.)
- Hours-of-service compliance (ensuring that large truck operators are awake, alert and able to respond quickly)
- Proper vehicle maintenance (including pre- and post-trip inspections and vehicle defects)
To help bolster your fleet’s CSA profile and BASIC scores, consider embracing technology to better prepare your drivers and vehicles. Well-trained and educated drivers are equally essential to safety success.
How to leverage technology to help improve inspection scores
Mitigate unsafe driving behaviors
Given that unsafe driving behaviors contribute to inspection results, fleets should embrace technology that helps improve accident prevention measures and keeps drivers safer on the road. Telematics contributes to improved driver safety by monitoring the location and speed of every vehicle and providing near real-time alerts when speeding incidents occur. It also highlights other risky driving behaviors such as hard braking and fast acceleration.
This data then helps to create a record that can be used to develop greater driver awareness of these behaviors, as well as to design training programs that support improved driver actions behind the wheel. You can also help support drivers in emergencies with live location tracking, and provide them with improved navigation to keep them on the right (and safest) route.
Bolster HOS compliance with ELD-friendly tech
For inspectors, HOS (hours of service) compliance is an important indicator of a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle. And come December 16, 2019, all carriers (unless they qualify for an exemption) must have transitioned from an AOBRD to an (Electronic Logging Device) ELD.
The good news is that ELDs can help drivers and fleets improve the precision of HOS recordkeeping and streamline the process to:
- Accurately monitor driver status and hours: Easily see how much time drivers have left in their day as well as whether they are on duty, driving or off duty.
- Reduce paperwork and manual processes: Access electronic logs stored in the cloud, eliminating the need for paper logs which run the risk of being incomplete, lost or never submitted.
- Save time on reporting: Quickly run summarized, actionable reports on driver logs, HOS violations, vehicle inspections and unassigned miles with just a few clicks.
Additionally, integrating your ELD solution with telematics in a central management portal also supports easy data access and analytics for both drivers and management.
Of all reasons for a driver to be put out of service from a failed inspection, the top three were: hours of service violations (43.7%), wrong class license (21.4%) and false record of duty status (10.2%).3
Streamline and automate vehicle maintenance
Vehicle maintenance is the biggest deciding factor for your fleet’s inspection clearance. With many conditions impacting how a vehicle functions, keeping tabs on minute changes can prove stressful and time-consuming. Smart use of the right technology can be a big differentiator for your business when it comes to keeping more vehicles on the road, and can differentiate you from your competition.
Telematics helps streamline maintenance processes, leading to healthier vehicles and decreasing the chance of being found in violation during an inspection. Roadside inspectors take into account maintenance inspection records as well as observable defects like inoperable required lights, underinflated or flat tires, missing hazardous material placards and fluid leaks.
Fleets can turn to telematics to provide up-to-the-minute data on vehicle condition via automatic mileage calculations, daily odometer updates, and notifications when preset maintenance intervals are reached. With this continuous monitoring, engine issues can be identified early, making vehicles safer to drive and helping to stay in compliance with governmental requirements.
You can leverage telematics for detailed data on:
- Engine diagnostics: Includes current battery voltage, coolant temperature, powertrain malfunctions, intake valve issues and oxygen sensor problems.
- Engine hour tracking and driver behavior data: Use this data to get a better picture of overall vehicle health.
- Service record tracking: Receive proactive reminders for routine maintenance and automatically track vehicle service and date of completion, regardless of provider.
How to prepare your drivers for inspections
In addition to investing funds in technology, it’s helpful to also invest time in training your drivers on procedures and actions to follow should an inspection occur. The vast majority of roadside inspections are triggered by driver behavior, such as inadequate pre-trip inspections or a traffic law violation—making consistent training to educate your drivers in “target-avoidance” techniques critical.
Help drivers understand how to conduct proper and thorough pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections to eliminate observable defects before hitting the road. Pre-trip, drivers should look out for any issues with fluid levels, mirrors, lights, windshield wipers, tires, and secured cargo.5 Post-inspection, drivers should check service and parking brakes, the steering wheel, coupling devices and emergency equipment.5
In addition, make sure that drivers are up to speed on inspection protocols and help them understand the importance of keeping accurate HOS records. Make sure they’re also familiar with the operation of their ELD. Finally, be sure drivers keep all relevant and required documents on hand, including all required licenses and certificates.2
It’s also a good idea to coach drivers on their “presentation.” How they present their truck, such as keeping it neat, tidy and having all paperwork within reach, and themselves, such as being polite towards inspectors no matter the circumstance, staying calm and being honest, is important. It goes a long way toward making a positive impression and can ultimately impact an inspection.
For more information on how to build a dependable fleet for a positive impact on your CSA scores, watch our webinar “Maximizing Fleet Safety & Compliance Technologies.”