Roadcheck 2018: We're doing better, but improvement still needed

Sept. 24, 2018
4,536 vehicles were taken out of service because of issues with their braking systems; brake systems accounted for 28.4% of all vehicles’ out of service citations.

There was some good news following this summer’s International Roadcheck. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the out-of-service rate for vehicles subjected to Level 1 inspections was 21.6%, down from 2017’s 23%.

In addition, the number of drivers placed out of service for Level I, II and III inspections was down to 3.9% from last year’s 4.7%.

It looks like we are making steps in the right direction. I am not going to try to tackle the Hours of Service violations, which were the focus of this year’s Roadcheck.

I do, however, want to talk about the vehicle violations, which look for mechanical defects. This year, brakes were the top reason a vehicle was taken out of service. A total of 4,536 vehicles were taken out of service because of issues with their braking systems. In fact, brake systems accounted for 28.4% of all vehicles’ out of service citations. Problems with tires/wheels were the reason why 19.1% of vehicles (3,058) were taken out of service. Brake adjustment was at fault in 16.3% of the cases with lighting checking in at 12%, suspension at 4.2% and steering at 2.2%.

I believe in the vehicle category there is a lot more we could be doing to ensure that the vehicles on the road are not taken out of service during a safety blitz or following a normal roadside inspection.

That will require a combination of things.

  • Improving drivers’ compliance with pre- and post-trip inspections: Do you have a system in place that tracks whether drivers are completing their inspections as they are supposed to? Have you made it easy for them to do so by using a standard form that systematically walks them around the truck? Are you allowing inspections to be completed electronically on a tablet or smartphone? The easier you make it for your drivers to complete their pre- and post-trip inspections the more likely they are to be done. Remember the goal is to get drivers to really look at the vehicle and not just check boxes off on a form.
  • Repairing the issues recorded on DVIRs: If drivers identify problems on their DVIRs, you’d better make sure you are paying attention to them and taking the steps necessary to get the repairs made before the trucks go back out on the road. Drivers are going to stop reporting problems if they feel you are not taking their concerns seriously so address problems as soon as they are brought to your attention. Also, pay attention to recurring problems across a specific asset class. It could mean you need to rethink vehicle specs the next time you purchase new trucks.
  • Doing a better job during PMIs: Similar to making the inspection process easy for drivers, making it easier for techs to complete PMIs should result in their finding problems before they lead to CSA violations.
  • Managing PM compliance: Do you have a system in place that allows you to monitor PM compliance? If not, now is the time to add one. This will allow you to see which trucks are due for a PM service and which may have not been brought in for their needed PM for whatever reason. A structured system prevents trucks from slipping through the cracks and ensures trucks get into the shop as needed for any PM work.

The numbers from the most recent International Roadcheck are encouraging. We are moving in the right direction with fewer trucks being taken out of service. With a few tweaks to your maintenance procedures, we can bring those numbers even lower.

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