LAS VEGAS. Fleets may find their equipment suppliers to be another source of support when it comes to CSA compliance, according to Annette Sandberg, CEO TransSafe Consulting and former FMCSA Administrator. Sandberg gave attendees at this year’s Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week here an overview of the CSA regulations and procedures, along with a look at where carriers are having the most trouble— hours of service and maintenance followed by unsafe driving.
Her advice to carriers and suppliers: “Target the worst problems first.” You can look at CSA reports and drill down to see the actual inspecting officer’s report, she noted. In the maintenance category, the most common violation is inoperative lamps and other lighting issues, followed by parts and accessories, tires, oil and grease leaks and unsecured lines.
Sandberg offered a list of steps to improve CSA scores:
- Tighten up logging procedures, including making sure supporting documents, such as fueling receipts, are all available and in order. “Auditing is critical,” she said. EOBRs with electronic driver logs can also make compliance much easier for fleets and their drivers.
- Consider retraining drivers on what they need to do during the mandated pre-and post-trip vehicle inspections if you are having persistent problems. Some drivers today may not really understand what is required of them.
- Be diligent about periodic maintenance and recordkeeping.
- Make sure to do annual inspections on time.
- Develop a good maintenance management system. Software solutions can be a huge help.
- Keep maintenance files up to date. Vehicle inspection reports are critical.
Maintenance scores can be very tough to improve, according to Sandberg, because carriers with poor CSA scores are more apt to be targeted for repeat inspections and because “any trooper worth their salt can find a maintenance violation if they try.”
There are also modifications coming for CSA that will “be game-changers,” Sandberg noted, specifically the move to use CSA data to automatically generate safety rating scores rather than basing scores on the results of actual compliance reviews.
There are really only two ways that fleets can improve their CSA scores, she added: 1) by working to improve problem areas over time, so that as old scores fall off the record they will be replaced by better ones and 2) by getting ‘clean’ roadside inspections, which will gradually dilute the effect of prior bad scores.
Variations in enforcement training and practices from state to state as well as a lack of clear direction concerning some violations (there is no definition of what equals a flat tire, for instance) can also unfairly cause problems for carriers, Sandberg observed.
“In some states, they do much more rigorous training of inspectors,” she said. If there is a conflict about something during an inspection, Sandberg recommended that a driver “ask politely if the inspector can point out exactly what is wrong so that I can take a picture and show my boss.” Drivers should also take good notes and report a poor inspection immediately back to the fleet, she said. Taking the right steps during the inspection may make it possible to successfully challenge questionable scores.