Owner Operators - The Grapevine
Vehicle Maintence Under CSA
The new Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) Methodology published in August 2010 reduced the number of violations appearing on the severity weighting tables substantially reducing the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) score. But don't let fewer violations appearing on the tables give you a false sense of security; there is still ample opportunity to leave a roadside inspection with at least one violation.
Compliance begins and ends at the terminal with the pre-trip inspection. How your employee driver or any other driver that you utilize, will have an impact on your roadside inspection results and also aid in reducing the number of crashes attributed to your company.
The best way to maintain an effective safety program is to follow what the FMCSA has suggested and use what is called a "Safety Management Cycle". It is a very simple plan where you can incorporate the best maintenance practices into your safety plan. Imagine a large wagon wheel with a hub in the middle and six spokes going from the hub out to the outer rim.
Spoke 1. This will be called Polices and Procedures. Create policies and procedures in a way that offers practical application of the vehicle maintenance regulations. Make sure you enforce the policies in order to give them teeth." Consider including the following areas: training, recordkeeping, consequences for policy violation, who is in charge - give name and job title. All personnel that are affected should be given a copy of the policy and have them sign a receipt to show that they have received it and will follow the policy.
Spoke 2. This will be called Roles and Responsibilities. Identify, clearly define, and document roles and responsibilities of drivers, dispatch, mechanics, and technicians related to vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance. This can be accomplished through your policies and procedures as well as training and job descriptions. The role of senior management must also be identified, clearly defined, and documented for implementing vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance policies and for monitoring compliance with these policies.
Spoke 3. This will be called Hiring and Qualifications. Clearly investigate whether a potential mechanic/technician actually worked for someone. When interviewing for the position of mechanic, it could be beneficial to check the previous employer's SMS score if applicable. If your going to use an outside garage to repair, conduct routine maintenance, and perform periodic and brake inspections, you should inquire of the technician's qualifications. Ask for proof that the individual meets the minimum requirements of the regulations.
Spoke 4. This will be called Training and Communications. Be sure to use the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria in your driver and technician training program. All parties responsible for safety must know the regulations that the motor carrier has to follow during a roadside inspection.
Spoke 5. This will be called Monitoring and Tracking. Designate someone to monitor and track roadside inspection results in order to ensure vehicle defects are repaired promptly. This will help prevent you from accidently operating an out-of-service vehicle. Someone in your shop, or your outside fleet maintenance service, needs to review the maintenance daily vehicle reports against part receipts to ensure maintenance accuracy. This same person should also monitor all manufacturers recall notices, if applicable.
Spoke 6. This will be called Meaningful Action. Take action based on what you learned from past experiences. This will aid in preventing a repeat violation during a future roadside inspection. You must ensure that your driving and maintenance staff is familiar with all the regulations. (See Sec 390.3 (e) 1 and 2). If you become aware that someone is not up to his/her responsibilities, you need to address this issue right away before it becomes a serious problem. This may involve a progressive disciplinary program, possible leading to termination, Try and focus on positive corrective action to ensure drivers and technicians comply with FMCSA regulations and company policies.
If you feel all of this is out of your capabilities, you can always go to your local association for help.
Pre-trip and post-trip inspections are the two most important things that a truck driver, new or old, can do to promote safety and to insure against loss of revenue. The secret goal is to discover any problems while they are small instead of waiting until they become a major problem.
By following the following three steps, you can stay out on the road making money, instead of being in the shop spending money.
Step One: Parking your Rig. When you park your rig, if at all possible, try and park in a dry spot. If you can't try to put a large piece of cardboard down. This is so that you can check for any leaks.
Step Two: Walk Up & Around Inspection. When approaching your rig, looks for leaks. Start your engine and turn on all your lights, heater, a/c, wipers, check horns, all dash lighting and gauges, then check all external lighting. Check for missing or non-working clearance lights, wiper blades, headlamps, etc. Remember everything that came on your truck from the factory must work. It you add any extra lighting, it must work also.
Next, walk down the left side checking the top of the door, window, mirrors, turn signals, front wheel lug nuts and any uneven wear of the tires, look for low air pressure. Check fuel tanks and loose mounting, rear fenders and mud flaps. Check rear lighting, and then do the same for the right side. Looks for any leaks, tires and leaks are the number one problem, which causes truckers downtime, after this comes loose parts.
Step Three: Under the Hood Inspection: At this time check your oil, power steering fluid, and coolant level. Check your belts, hoses, and water pump. If you see any leaks, try to follow the leak to see where it comes from. Most of the time it is just a bolt or clamp that
needs tightening. Also check our front brakes, make sure you have at least 16/32 or more brake shoe. If any brake shoe are 8/32 or less, this will put your truck out-of-service at the first scale. This also goes for the rear brakes.