The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ensures that fleets comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations by conducting roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles. Inspections occur every day, but sometimes there are targeted safety blitzes like International Roadcheck or Brake Safety Week.
About 4 million commercial motor vehicles are inspected each year using the CVSA’s North American Standard Inspection Program. There are different levels of inspections, and regardless of when an inspection occurs, if inspectors find a serious issue a truck can be taken out of service until the problem is fixed.
In June, inspectors took 1,290 trucks out of service for brake-related issues during an unannounced brake safety day. During 2021’s Roadcheck, inspectors removed 6,710 commercial motor vehicles from roadways.
Clearly, we as an industry have more work to do to ensure that the trucks we are putting out on the roads are as safe as possible, especially given the fact that new truck deliveries have been delayed and many fleets are operating older vehicles that generally need more maintenance.
Now is a good time to review all of your vehicle inspection and maintenance procedures. Make sure drivers are diligently performing their pre-trip inspections. You can make a game of this by placing notes at key inspection points to see if drivers find them. The reward for finding the note and thereby performing a thorough inspection could be a coupon for a free meal or some company swag like a cap or shirt.
You may want to schedule refresher courses on how to properly complete pre- or post-trip inspections. It's human nature to go on automatic pilot with something we do on a regular basis. The refresher might be just what’s needed to remind drivers of how important these routine inspections are. Remind them that a problem caught by the driver and fixed in the shop won’t result in an out of service citation in the event of CVSA inspection.
Make sure your technicians pay close attention to DVIRs and fix any problems that drivers note on those forms. It is demotivating to drivers when complaints they have pointed out are not addressed. You also might want to review your preventive maintenance inspection list to make sure it covers everything you want your technicians to check. Have a technician who does an excellent job with preventive maintenance inspections give a demonstration on the proper techniques needed to complete a good PM inspection.
Make sure you are tracking PM compliance so that you have data supporting the fact that trucks are, in fact, coming in for their scheduled PM services. Analyze data about shop visits that occur between PMs. Ideally, you don't want to see a truck in the shop between PMs. Look at the reasons why trucks are coming back to the shop and use those as opportunities to retrain technicians on problems that recur.
I don’t think we will ever get to a day when no trucks are taken out of service, but I do think there are steps fleets can take so that more of their vehicles are passing roadside inspections with flying colors.
Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.