Maintenance is an important aspect within any trucking company, but the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Trucking (NTSB) is calling on fleet owners to improve their maintenance efforts and pay particular attention to brake systems.
Earlier this year, NTSB added the goal of strengthening commercial trucking safety to its Top 10 Most Wanted List.
“It starts with improving the system for determining a trucking company’s safety compliance, including both driver and vehicle factors,” NTSB said. “Stronger oversight is needed to ensure that new fleet owners address any safety deficiencies in a timely fashion, and are swiftly placed out of service if they fail to improve.”
Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the NTSB, has said there has been an uptick in truck-involved fatalities since 2009, and NTSB has seen the results of equipment that isn’t well maintained. “To address vehicle factors, regulators must promote proper fleet maintenance and proven lifesaving technology,” NTSB said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that truck-involved crashes on U.S. roads rose by 0.5 percent in 2013, while injuries declined to 95,000 from 104,000. Overall in 2013, deaths from vehicle crashes declined 3.1 percent, to 32,719, which marks a nearly 25 percent decrease since 2004.
NTSB said vehicle inspections should be required during compliance reviews, and vehicle safety equipment and technology, such as collision warning technology, tire pressure monitoring systems, rollover stability control systems, and lane departure warning systems, should be mandated across the entire industry.
Hart called on fleet owners to pay particular attention to brakes. In the fall, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance focused on brakes during Brake Safety Week. Of the 13,305 vehicles inspected during the week, 2,162 commercial vehicles were placed out of service for brake violations, which was 16.2 percent. That was up from 13.5 percent for the 2013 event.
Properly managed, regular maintenance can improve operations and minimize violations at roadside inspections. Fleet owners looking to create a comprehensive maintenance program should focus on a rigorous maintenance schedule, analytics to identify potential failures and timely repair of underperforming parts.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has estimated that the large truck-involved crash fatality rate decreased in 2013. ATA based its figures on data released by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration on the estimated miles traveled by large trucks in 2013. According to ATA, the fatality rate in 2013 was 1.44 per 100 million miles traveled — a 1.6 percent decline from the 1.465 per 100 million miles traveled in 2012.
The fatality rate per million miles traveled has dropped 39.2 percent over the past decade and the injury rate saw a 34.2 percent decline over the past ten years as well.