Under the Department of Transportation's Compliance Safety Accountability program, the Safety Measurement System quantifies the on-road safety performance of carriers and drivers to identify candidates for interventions. The system relies heavily on data from roadside inspections, so every vehicle and driver violation counts. Fortunately, proper maintenance and driver training can prevent nearly all of the most frequent violations private fleets receive.
Not only does regular maintenance improve uptime, it can also keep CSA violations at bay.
"Preventive maintenance is the primary means to reduce roadside violations," said Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance support at Penske Truck Leasing.
As part of preventive maintenance, technicians evaluate lights, grease oil leaks, tire tread and fire extinguishers, all of which are frequent violations. Drivers can also monitor these items during daily inspections.
"All of these are nuisance items, but if the driver does a proper pre- and post-inspection, they should catch those little things so when they go through a scale or inspection, there is nothing relevant," Hasinec said.
Of course, things can happen while a driver is out on the road, such as a light bulb burning out. "Nowadays, for the most part, people have gone to LED and they last a lot longer. They also have diodes, so when a light goes out, it doesn't go out totally," Hasinec said.
Manufacturers are also offering technology that checks circuits and makes sure all of the lights are burning. "It is like a mini pre-trip," Hasinec said, adding that some manufacturers now make the feature standard.
Hasinec said drivers need to be good citizens for their organizations. "They have to fill out their paperwork properly and do their pre- and post-trips. If drivers follow that handful of tips they won't have any issues," he said.
Chuck Pagesy, director of safety at Penske Truck Leasing, said many of the most frequent driver violations are easy to control. "A good driver can do just a few minor things to ensure he avoids some of the more common violations," he said, citing wearing a seatbelt and carrying a medical certification card as examples.
Drivers can also avoid violations by obeying driving laws, such as speed limits, traffic lights and stop signs. "These are manageable items that drivers can be trained on and held accountable for good performance," Pagesy said.
Log violations in one form or another make up a good percentage of violations. "If drivers kept their log book current, they could avoid these," Pagesy said, adding that electronic logging devices could minimize those types of violations. "In most cases, when they fire the truck up, it will prompt them to enter in information and start their electronic log. It will make sure it is current."
However, drivers are still obligated to make entries into the system. "If they stop that truck for two hours, the truck doesn't know if they are unloading, taking a break or have been in an accident, so they still have to be religious about entering information," Pagesy said.
Dispatchers have a role to play in minimizing violations by monitoring the drivers' hours of service to make sure they give drivers work assignments that can be legally completed. "They need to monitor and reinforce that it is time to shut down," Pagesy said.
Good communication between dispatchers, supervisors and drivers can reinforce drivers' roles in minimizing violations. "By having daily huddle meetings, frequent handouts or updates on the latest regulations, it keeps it in the forefront of their minds," Pagesy said.