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How Telematics Can Help With Fleet Inspections

By Verizon Connect March 16, 2023

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 Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC) scores also come from that inspection performance.

How CSA and BASIC scores can impact 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 addressing 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

Given that unsafe driving behaviors contribute to inspection results, fleets should embrace technology that helps improve accident prevention measures and keep drivers safe on the road. Telematics promotes 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 route.

Video telematics solutions like dashcams can be a valuable tool in your arsenal when it comes to mitigating unsafe driving behaviors by providing a wide range of benefits, such as:

  • In-cab audio alerts: Drivers are alerted in near real-time to unsafe driving events or behaviors, such as phone usage or reckless driving.
  • Coaching opportunities: Managers can use recorded footage to coach safe driving practices and discuss safety habits.
  • Helpful insights: Verizon Connect’s Integrated Video solution utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to provide useful analysis and context alongside video footage so managers can understand what’s important, and what actions can be taken.

When taken together, the benefits provided by dashcams and video telematics can help businesses create a culture of safety that can make a meaningful impact on inspection scores.

Manage 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. 

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: false logs (42.6%), wrong class license (23.6%) and hours of service violations (8.1%).2 

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 help your drivers prepare 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. Post-inspection, drivers should check service and parking brakes, the steering wheel, coupling devices and emergency equipment.

Given the most common reasons for drivers to be put out of service for a failed inspection, they should make sure their HOS records and ELD are accurate, and that they have the proper licenses and documents in place. 

Download the 4 tips for passing your next roadside inspection eBook to learn more about how today’s vehicle monitoring systems can help better prepare your drivers to pass roadside inspections.

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 make sure your fleet is prepared for inspections, check out our free International Roadcheck Checklist.

1 https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About
2 https://www.cvsa.org/news/2022-roadcheck-results/

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Cost control, Productivity & Efficiency, Safety, Vehicle & asset security, Vehicle Maintenance

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