Fleet Management – How to Avoid The Risk Of Non-Compliance

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Our best tips for helping you become as compliant as possible, with the CSA BASICs

Let’s talk about fines for a minute: in 2012, the San Bernardino County Superior Court fined a Ontario-based trucking company, $300,000. Last year, a California based trucking firm was docked for $523,675 by CARB. In 2015, the DOT handed out $33.7 million in fines to over 4,300 companies!

What do these fines have in common? They all came from non-compliance with established regulations. According to the FMCSA, on average, DOT regulated truck, bus and coach companies have paid at least $27 million in fines EVERY year for the last 7 years!

The crime: driver non-compliance

Fleet managers are faced with the need to stay abreast of laws across different federal and state jurisdictions. But compliance can start to feel cumbersome and you may be tempted to let a few things slide. You’ll be surprised at how quickly ‘small’ slips can add up and place your company outside the government-designated thresholds.

Cost of Non-Compliance

Now, smaller fleets may look at the fines above and say “that can’t happen to me.” But it can; even smaller fleets that only operate a couple of trucks can spend upwards of $10,000 per year in compliance costs. Let’s look at a quick breakdown of the costs:

According to the FMCSA 2015 pocket guide, the average fine per case for non-compliance can be up to $5,074. Now add the cost of being placed out-of-service for at least 10 hours, due to the driver log violation, which can cost between $500 and $970. The cost of having out-of-service roadside repairs can easily be 5x what it would cost at your home terminal!

The almost $10,000 shelled out so far, isn’t the worst thing that can happen. In regulated industries, a company’s safety rating will dictate their insurance rates. A high number of accidents and claims will lead to the trucking company’s insurance premiums skyrocketing.

Government Interventions

To make the roads safer, the government (through its agencies) has set up multiple initiatives; just last month, the FMCSA finalized a rule replacing paper driver log books with electronic logging devices. In the past decade, the FMCSA has also introduced a key safety measurement and reporting initiative; the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. The CSA is designed to score commercial freight companies based on their performance and safety records.

Basically, companies with passing grades will keep their trucks on the road while poor scores will lead to sanctions. The CSA also impacts all cross-border carriers that are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

Despite this, almost 4,000 people were killed in truck-related accidents in the US in 2013 alone. This figure was up by 17% from 2009; accidents which according to the CSA, boil down to one thing: non-compliance.

To educate drivers, the CSA bases the scoring on the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). It tracks any issues with hours-of-service, driver fitness, unsafe driving, use of controlled substances and vehicle maintenance.

Avoiding these violations is no small feat; the FMCSA will take action on even the smallest infraction, leading to a poor CSA score. The knock-on effect of poor CSA scores is the higher premiums mentioned earlier and a potential loss of business as freight forwarders will look at safety performance before choosing a company to work with.

Risk of Non-Compliance: Be Proactive

Getting around these potential issues involves being proactive at tackling the compliance basics. We’ve put together our best tips for helping you become as compliant as possible, with the CSA BASICs:

Hours of Service violations

  • Identify the root cause of the violation; was it because the driver didn’t fill out the RODs at all, filled it but made an error or the driver refused to fill the log out properly.
  • Determine that the trip can be made within the speed limit before dispatching your driver.
  • Regularly cross-check driver logs for accuracy.

Unsafe driving violations

  • To eliminate incidences of over-speeding, hard braking, driving without a seat belt or using a cell phone while at the wheel, conduct quarterly driver safety training./li>
  • Classify certain violations e.g. seat belt and cellphone use as a “Serious” violation in the company Safety policy.
  • Recommend repeat offenders for defensive driving training.
  • Driver fitness

        • Monitor your driver’s key documents, including their license, MVR, DOT Medical, Annual review etc. Use a software that will notify you up to a month before expiration, so you can remind the driver about getting a renewal.

    Controlled Substances/Alcohol Violations

        • Classify any form of substance/alcohol abuse as a serious offense in the company Safety policy.
        • Provide educational information to drivers about the effects of substance abuse and alcohol misuse.
        • Be sure to document all training and obtain signed acknowledgment of understanding.

    Vehicle Maintenance

        • Educate your drivers on how to carry out a proper vehicle inspection during driver orientation.
        • FMCSR 392.6 requires that nine major components on the vehicle, must be examined daily. Use trucks with pre-planted defects in these areas during driver training.
        • Classify the operation of an Out of Service vehicle as a serious offence.
        • Always ensure your vehicles carry spare parts and accessories e.g. lights, fuses, etc.

    Continuously educating your drivers on the importance of complying with the BASICs that drive CSA and how FMCSA assesses safety under CSA, is one thing. But it’s obviously not enough as is evident with the number of accidents that still occur.

    Whether you manage five mini vans or 500 HGVs, it is impossible to keep tabs on every detail covered so far (and there are hundreds more); here’s where fleet management software can help to collect and leverage data.

    By implementing an Fleet Management System, you can monitor everything from hours of service to the fuel level in a vehicle. The data gathered can also be used to optimize business operations and help create a competitive advantage. Compliance is always going to be cheaper than getting hit with a fine and having to deal with low CSA scores. Compliance goes beyond just obeying rules as it can have a significant effect on your bottom line by reducing unnecessary costs.

    Ready to improve those CSA scores? Talk to us today about your requirements and let’s help you on the road to smarter truck fleet management.

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