Turn Signals – Issue #44

Reminder! Roadcheck 2016 runs from Tuesday, June 7-Thursday, June 9 across North America with its emphasis on tire safety. A spokesman from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the following reasons for this year’s focus on tires: higher speed limits in many states, increased front axle loads, and longer daily utilization of heavy trucks. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance reports tire violations now constitute 13.9% of all highway inspection violations versus 10.1% in 2013. NHTSA states tire tread depths less than 2/32” on non-steer tires is the biggest problem.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing the creation of a new voluntary CSA Basic called Beyond Compliance. Carriers would be listed in this Basic if they “install advanced safety equipment”, use “enhanced driver fitness measures”, or adopt “fleet safety management tools, technologies, and programs” that are not required by regulations. Interested companies would apply by paying a third-party evaluator hired by FMCSA to decide if the enhancements qualify for the Basic. In the application, the carriers must baseline its current safety statistics, and predict the safety improvement from the enhancements and their cost. Only interstate carriers could apply. New entrants and companies with a Conditional safety rating or a CSA Alert cannot apply.

What happens if a trucking company is approved to be listed in the Beyond Compliance Basic? First, its safety enhancement would be shown and designated as “Deployed”. Then in 6 months the FMCSA evaluator would determine if the carrier’s safety baseline has improved and if verified, the specific enhancement would be designated as “Improved”. The company would be evaluated thereafter on an annual basis for an additional fee. If the evaluator determines the carrier has fallen below its safety baseline or if it has any CSA Alerts, it will be given a 6-month warning to improve. If the company fails to do so or if it receives a Conditional safety rating, it will be removed from the Basic.

Motor carriers should be aware that in 2012 FMCSA established a policy classifying driving over three hours beyond the daily maximum allowable hours as an “egregious violation”. The maximum civil penalty for each violation can be as high as $2,500 for the driver and $10,000 for the company. Carriers would be wise to train their drivers about this policy and to deal harshly with any driver who drives excessive hours, whether or not the driver was caught for the violation.

FMCSA began publishing electronic logging devices whose manufacturers have self-certified its products comply with the technical specifications of the ELD rules. The agency, though, is not testing the devices for compliance. That makes for obvious concern for trucking companies who buy and install ELD’s that are later found by highway officials to be defective or inaccurate. As the old adage goes, “Buyer beware!”

Did you know… In a recent survey by HireRight, 59% of respondents said finding, retaining and developing drivers was their top business challenge. The companies stated 41% of their drivers quit for more home time and 21% left because of health issues.

Turn Signals is published by Nicholas Wingerter (210.863.9759) and TRUCK SAFETY. ©2016 All Rights Reserved. It is posted on this site with their permission.