Fleet Maintenance And The CSA Challenge
An analysis of the Maintenance BASIC under the Compliance, Safety and Accountability program from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration showed that a high number of violations are caused by requirements regarding reflective lighting. Broken lamps are another problem for many fleet managers along with wheel part repairs and chafed brake hoses.
“Seventy to 75 percent of all CSA points can be traced back to maintenance or unsafe driving violations”.
In the past, many of these issues may have been overlooked. Drivers and managers would simply have decided that while the issues were in need of repair, they were not extensive enough to actually shut down the fleet. Today however, these are issues that are commonly repaired right away because the points will count against the fleet and could possibly cause a major shutdown of operations.
Larger problems were typically always repaired right away but minor issues would have been overlooked simply because they were costly or time consuming and because they did not threaten the operation, they could be put off for a later time. Today however, the CSA looks at everything that could possibly cause an issue and ensures that managers are focusing on all aspects of operating their fleets.
Many organizations are learning that in order to comply properly with CSA standards, a pre-trip and a post-trip inspection are needed by the driver. Everyone in the organization should be focusing on CSA requirements
in order to ensure that the operation remains on track. This includes every operation that uses trucks.
“The most important thing to note with CSA is that if your business is using trucks, you are subject to it,” stresses Stephen Keppler, executive director of the Greenbelt, Md.-based Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), an international not-for-profit organization composed of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico”.
Historically, he says, a lot of refuse businesses did not really think of themselves as trucking companies; trucks were just one of many tools to collect trash and recyclables. Under CSA, they no longer have that luxury. Any business operating commercial trucks is going to be captured within this new safety net.
“On top of that, CSA uses real-time data generated from roadside inspections to put together its fleet safety ratings,” says Keppler. That means things like maintenance defects and out-of-adjustment brakes will find their way into in the public eye a lot faster than most fleets realize.
The CSA began in 2010 and since that time, the trucking industry has seen a dramatic reduction in violations, more so than in the last 10 years combined. Driver violations are down by more than 15 percent and roadside inspection violations are down by almost 14 percent. These numbers may continue in a positive direction as more and more fleet management programs are implemented by various companies.
“FCMSA's number one goal is safety: We want to ensure that every trip is a safe trip every time. And we think CSA is bridging multiple worlds in that process. And the nation's fleet maintenance professionals deserve a lot of credit for that; making older equipment work safely while learning to understand and use new technology in pursuit of low CSA scores and consistent safe vehicle operation.”
The integration of regulations by the CSA has required a number of changes within many organizations. Poor performers have been replaced and this covers every base from technicians and drivers to entire fleets. Even law enforcement officers who are tasked with carrying out vehicle and driver inspections have begun to adhere more to CSA standards in an attempt to make the roadways safer for everyone.