10 Steps When Dealing With A Vehicle Breakdown

10 Steps When Dealing With A Vehicle Breakdown

As a truck driver, chances are you will face a vehicle breakdown, and nothing can be more frustrating and hazardous than being stuck on the side of the road.

In an emergency, you may have no choice but to stop in a dangerous place, which is why every truck driver needs to know what to do when dealing with a vehicle breakdown. 

We will quickly cover the three most common causes of a vehicle breakdown, how to prevent them, and what steps a driver should take when dealing with a vehicle breakdown.

 

Thorough daily inspections will reduce the chance of having a breakdown

The most important factor to reduce vehicle maintenance issues is conducting thorough pre-trip, post-trip, and on-route vehicle inspections on your truck and trailer.

Vehicle breakdowns can range from complications with tires, batteries, air leaks, running out of fuel, brakes, filters and additives, hoses, starters, alternators, lights, belts, sensors, and more.

The three of the most common issues are caused by tires, batteries, and brakes.

Tires

In the summer, you can expect most tire failures during the hottest time of day. If a tire is worn or compromised, hot roads will accelerate its wear and lead to failure.

A leading cause for tire blowouts is road hazards and underinflated tires are more prone to penetration. Unfortunately, a tire blowout can cause secondary damage that may increase repair costs and downtime.

In high heat, checking your tire pressure and wear during pre-trip inspections is critical. Remember, tires are designed to be porous and will lose about three pounds of air pressure each month.

During your daily inspections, be sure to check tire pressure, tread depth, and look for any worn sidewalls or objects in the tires.

Batteries

Truck batteries face different problems during the summer and winter months. In the summer, the heat can kill batteries 33% faster than in colder temperatures. In the winter, jumpstarts increase by almost 50%.

To minimize the need of jumpstarts, make sure that everything in the truck in turned off. Leaving your lights on or refrigerator plugged in can lead to unnecessary problems.

If a high draw on the battery happened recently, be sure to let the truck run for several minutes to let the alternator charge the batteries.

If the truck has been sitting for a few days, part way through the layoff be sure to start the truck and let it run for a while to keep the batteries charged.

Brakes

Brake violations and often the most frequent violation in roadside inspections. To prevent a vehicle breakdown due to brakes, regularly check the brake adjustment with the slack adjuster.

During your daily inspections, check to make sure brake chamber air lines are secure, able to flex, not leaking, free of mechanical damage and the seals on the glad hands and trailer side are in good condition.

How Successful Driver Training Programs Reduce Driver Turnover

 

What to do when a breakdown occurs

Eventually, all truck drivers will face a breakdown and must pull over on the side of the road. Below are 10 steps on what to do when a vehicle breakdown occurs.

  1. When pulling off the road, go for the widest part of the road you can find or pull over on an offramp versus the shoulder of a highway.
  2. When pulling over, turn on the flashers, and watch your mirrors to monitor the traffic behind you.
  3. Ease off the road slowly versus a hard turn to the side of the road.
  4. Once parked as far off the road as possible, exit the side of the cab away from road traffic, set up your flares and/or orange triangles behind the truck at 50 feet, 100 feet, and 150 feet, and put on a high-visibility vest if you have one.
  5. If pulled over on a hill, be sure to chock the wheels.
  6. Open the hood of your truck to indicate that you are broken down and will not be moving anytime soon.
  7. Determine what caused the problem and whether you need roadside assistance or you can limp to the nearest repair facility.
  8. If you have a dispatcher, call them to explain your situation so they can inform the customer that your load may be delayed, and see if there is a mechanic in the shop that can advise you on what to do next.
  9. Contact your truck insurance carrier for roadside assistance, if covered.
  10. No matter what, stay alert when pulled over on the shoulder of a road and remain in the vehicle as much as possible if waiting for roadside assistance.  

 

DOT Training and Safety Meetings

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company, including daily pre and post-trip inspections.

Fleet management and driver training education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet and compliant safety practices.

Our trainers can tailor training to your specific operation.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.


Interested in Training?


Why Reasonable Suspicion Training For Managers Is So Important

Why Reasonable Suspicion Training For Managers Is So Important

One of the most difficult things about reasonable suspicion testing for supervisors is the fear of being wrong when “accusing” an employee of using drugs or alcohol, but the profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity may outweigh those fears.

With the continued rise of the opioid epidemic amplified with the pandemic, marijuana legalization across the nation, and changes to DOT testing regulations, managers need to refresh themselves on the requirements and the importance of reasonable suspicion to keep the workplace safe.

Supervisors often fear being sued or having a labor grievance action brought against them because of their decision to conduct a reasonable suspicion test.

These fears can be minimized if supervisors remember that requiring an employee to submit to a reasonable suspicion test is not an accusation of drug or alcohol use, nor is it an attempt to diagnose substance abuse or addiction. Rather, it is a method for “ruling out” a possible cause or explanation for employee behavior or appearance that is cause for concern.

 

Federal (DOT) Regulations Around Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion Training is for supervisors and managers of any employee covered by company’s drug and alcohol policy, human resource managers or DERs, upper management, or anyone else responsible for safety within the company.

For the FMCSA, PHMSA, FTA:

  • They must complete at least 2 hours of supervisor training—one hour on signs and symptoms associated with drug use and one hour on signs and symptom associated with alcohol misuse.
  • For owner operators, if the wife is doing your books and manages while you are on the road, she should need this training. If the husband and wife both drive, they would both need the training as they are supervising while the other drives.

Even if the reasonable suspicion test cannot be conducted, the employer is still required to remove any employee from safety-sensitive duties whose behavior or appearance is indicative of being under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs.

 

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Reasonable suspicion is described as a set of circumstances that give you reason to conduct a “fitness for duty” assessment of an employee based on objective observations.

The suspicion is based on observations of the individual employee. It is not a generalized belief or “gut feeling” about a group or category of employees based on such characteristics as dress, ethnicity, age, or occupation. A reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch; it is a rational conclusion drawn from objective observations of the individual over a period of time.

Many people can confuse reasonable suspicion and probable cause, and there is a difference between the two. Probable cause generally implies that there is evidence to support a probable conclusion—e.g., drug or alcohol use. Reasonable suspicion leaves room for an action to “rule out” or eliminate a particular cause for the observed phenomenon. In other words, the reasonable suspicion test is used as much to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance, as it is to prove that alcohol or drugs is the causative agent.

The supervisor’s role is to:

  • identify the specific observations of employee behavior or appearance that justify a reasonable suspicion test,
  • confront the employee concerning the requirement to undergo reasonable suspicion testing, and
  • fully explain the consequences of the employee’s refusal to comply.

Reasonable suspicion testing is used to determine that alcohol or drugs are not the cause of the observed behavior or appearance. Drug testing is a mechanism to determine if the employee has used a prohibited drug; regardless of when, or what amount.

The overall goal of Reasonable Suspicion Training is to protect public and workplace safety by ensuring the removal of employees from safety sensitive duties when their behavior and appearance indicate possible illegal drug use or alcohol misuse.

Basically, it gives a company eyes and ears throughout the workforce, with supervisors acting as the frontline defense for workplace safety.

The supervisor’s responsibility is to be alert to changes in the employee’s behavior and/or appearance, not to a specific set of symptoms associated with each drug or drug class.

Deciding that a reasonable suspicion test is necessary involves the supervisor’s specific interaction with the employee and should always be made based on current information. In the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident.

 

DOT Training and Safety Meetings

To teach you what the regulations say about how to handle reasonable suspicion, the process and documentation required, and tips to make sure you stay in compliance with those rules, our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company, including Reasonable Suspicion Training for managers.

Fleet management and driver training education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet and compliant safety practices.

Our trainers can tailor training to your specific operation.


Interested in Training?


FMCSA Proposes Under-21 Interstate Pilot Program, Expanding Military Driver Program

teenage under 21 truck drivers

In the last few years, the number of younger truck drivers has been decreasing, according to a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute.

This means the trucking industry is relying even more on drivers in the 45 to 54-year-old age group.

According to the American Trucking Associations, in 2019 the trucking industry was lacking about 60,800 drivers at the end of 2018 and the industry could be short more than 100,000 drivers in five years if conditions don’t change.

In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.

The FMCSA is requesting comments on the program that would allow:

  • 18 to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or
  • 19 and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles.

The drivers in the pilot program would not be allowed to haul passengers or hazardous materials or special configuration vehicles.

This pilot program comes after a 2019 military recruitment program that is studying the details of allowing 18 to 20-year-olds with military CDL-equivalent training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

This military pilot program will be expanding the military positions allowed as an effort to provide additional younger service members with opportunities in trucking, according to a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Oct. 9.

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The new roles include combat engineer, field artillery cannoneer and Patriot launching station operator from the originally approved roles as motor transport operator, fueler, and pavement and construction equipment operator.

The new roles were not included previously because FMCSA was not aware these classifications required heavy vehicle training.


DOT Compliance Services

Our compliance specialists can assist with a number of needs related to hiring and training new drivers including CDL training, new and ongoing driver training and even managing your driver qualification files.

Whether you are a large trucking company that is on-boarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

2020 Hours of Service Rule Changes and their Effect on Trucker Workdays

2020 Hours of Service Rules | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

With new HOS rules on the horizon, it is time to start training company drivers so they understand how their workday will improve. 

This week will be the first time the hours of service rules will have a major update in years that were highlighted after the ELD rollout.

Drivers could begin operating under the new HOS regulations on September 29, 2020 after the rule was debuted on May 14, 2020.

The four HOS rules changes will improve the workday for many truckers, including short-haul and team drivers, and will increase overall flexibility while the overall structure of HOS rules have not changed.

Drivers must still abide by the:

  • maximum 11 hour driving limit within a 14-hour window/workday (except for adverse driving conditions)
  •  10 minimum hours off between workdays; and
  • continued weekly 7 or 8 day  driving time maximums

 

What is changing and how will this affect the trucker’s workday?

What are the 2020 HOS Rule Changes?

The 4 major changes in the 2020 hours of service reforms will affect the: 30-minute rest break requirement, split-sleeper berth exception, short-haul exemption and adverse driving condition exemption.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

30-minute rest break: The changes to the rest break requirement will affect most long-haul truckers on the road as it will allow drivers to take their required 30-minute break during an “on-duty, not driving” status, rather than “off-duty” status.

Previously, drivers had to be “off-duty” to take a rest break, meaning they could not perform any work functions during their break.

Now, drivers can be “on-duty, not driving”, which allows them to perform paperwork or fuel their truck while on break.

For many truck drivers, this change is exciting as it allows them to complete some of the busywork required of them.

Note: This change does not affect short-haul drivers as they do not need to take a 30-minute break.

Team driving split sleeper berth exception: Team drivers can now choose to spend only seven hours in the sleeper berth instead of eight as drivers can split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 or a 7/3 split.

While this does not change the 14-hour driving window, the FMCSA hopes this will reduce driver temptations to speed or operate unsafely because their workday is ending.

Short-haul exemption: For short-haulers operating larger or heavier vehicles, drivers can now increase their maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extend the short-haul radius from 100 air-miles to 150 air-miles. Learn more about the original Short-Haul Exemption

This change is simply being consistent with short-haulers driving vehicles under 26,000 lbs.

While drive-time is not being extended, these short-haul drivers, such as local delivery, construction, or waste drivers, can increase their driving distance by 50 air-miles, and allow them to work at their job site or office for a couple more hours.

Drivers and fleet managers can now be more creative with a driver’s work schedule and should be trained on these hours of service rule changes to make sure they understand the boundaries of the FMCSA regulations.

Adverse driving conditions exemption: Truck drivers who experience unanticipated adverse road conditions, such as unexpected inclement weather, vehicle accidents, or road closures can extend their 11 hour drive time to 13 hours and allow the 14-hour driving window to be extended to 16 hours.

This flexibility gives drivers more time to slowly drive through poor road conditions or find a safe place to park and wait without rushing to finish their shift.

Drivers need to be trained on exactly what  situations are considered “adverse driving conditions,” what their options are regarding log books, and how to notate or document the exemption.


DOT and Driver Training

Truck drivers and fleet managers need continuous training on new FMCSA rules

These HOS rule changes provide an important opportunity for fleets to update their driver training.

CNS offers a variety of in-person and online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company or its’ drivers.

Fleets that incorporate training alongside driver qualification, drug testing and fuel tax management can create a complete picture of fleet safety.

Our complete DOT Compliance Programs promotes proactive safety and will complement or become your current safety department, without the cost of employing the many staff members it takes to run an effective safety program.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.


Colorado is the earliest chain law state, starting September 1

Colorado winter tire chain law

An unusually early September snowstorm is hitting the Rockies and Front Range through Wednesday from Wyoming to northern New Mexico, including Denver, Colorado.

Unpredictable weather systems can happen anytime, however snow often begins sticking to high-elevation routes in Colorado as early as mid- to late September.

According to Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), from Sept. 1 through May 31, all commercial vehicles traveling on I-70 between the Dotsero exit (mile point (MP) 133) and the Morrison exit (MP 259) must carry sufficient chains to be in compliance with the Colorado chain law.

For drivers and the public’s safety, it is important to use chains in compliance with Colorado’s chain law for commercial vehicles fitting into one of the following categories:

  • Vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds, inclusive of a towed unit, which has a gross vehicle weight-rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, or
  • Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver

The fine for not carrying chains on I-70 between mileposts 133 and 259 from September 1 to May 31 is $50 plus a $17 surcharge. Statewide, the fine for not chaining up when the chain law is in effect is $500 plus a $79 surcharge. The fine for not chaining up and subsequently blocking the highway is $1,000 plus a $157 surcharge.

At a minimum, the CDOT will notify the public of the travel restriction with erected static and electronic variable message roadway signs. Additionally, CDOT may utilize radio channels, the official CDOT travel website (www.cotrip.org/), phone message system, email, text and other automated personal notification systems.


Driver Training: Free Estimate

Contact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your driver training.

Tire Chains Allowed in Colorado:

Metal chains must consist of two circular metal loops–one on each side of the tire–connected by not less than nine evenly spaced chain loops across the tread. Commercial vehicles that have four or more drive wheels must chain four wheels and dual tire chains are acceptable.

Alternate Traction Devices
Approved Alternate Traction Devices (ATDs) in Colorado are:

  • wheel sanders, which carry enough sand to get the vehicle through the restricted area
  • pneumatically driven chains, which spin under the drive wheels automatically as traction is lost, and
  • textile traction device (TTD), a fabric boot which encompasses the tire. Currently, the only TTD that has been approved for use on Colorado state highways is the AutoSock.

Tire Cables
With only two exceptions, Colorado chain law rules do not permit tire cables as alternate traction devices.

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The exceptions are:

  1. tire cables with high strength steel cross member rollers 0.415″ or greater in diameter, which can be used on all commercial vehicles except single drive axle combinations; and
  2. on a tandem power drive axle commercial vehicle, where any type of cable can be used only if there are chains on the two outside tires of one of the power drive axles and cables on two or more tires of the other power drive axle.

 

Colorado Chain Law Levels

There are two levels for chain laws in Colorado—Level 1/Code 17 and Level 2/Code 18—and each level has specific conditions in which it can be implemented.

Chain Law Level 1/Code 17:
All single-drive axle combination commercial vehicles must chain all four drive wheels; cables are not permitted as ATDs. All other commercial vehicles must have snow tires or chains.

Level 1/Code 17 may be implemented any time there is snow covering any part of the traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade.

Chain Law Level 2/Code 18:
All commercial vehicles must chain up. Single drive axle combination and tandem drive axle commercial vehicles must chain four drive wheels.

Auto-transports must comply to the extent possible without causing damage to hydraulic lines. Buses must chain two drive wheels to be DOT compliant.

Level 2/Code 18 may be implemented any time there is snow covering the entire traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade, or when driving conditions dictate that this level is necessary to protect safety and to minimize road closures.

Be sure to review our complete guide on extreme weather and regulations affecting drivers this season.


DOT Training

All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:

  • driver training that is ongoing and consistent
  • driver education, and
  • driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws

All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Commercial Passenger Carriers to Stop Submitting No-Defect DVIRs

passenger carrier dvir

FMCSA announced in July that a final rule was published removing an information collection burden for commercial buses and other passenger-carrying motor coaches.

This rule will overturn the requirement that commercial bus drivers submit, as well as their motor carriers retain, driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) on no-defect DVIRs.

The rule is expected to go into effect in late August, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The official publication date has not yet been announced.

A no-defect DVIR is when the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any vehicle defects or deficiencies.

FMCSA says passenger vehicle carriers spend approximately 2.4 million hours each year completing no-defect DVIRs, and that this rule would result in a cost savings of $74 million per year to the industry.

Drivers will still be required to perform pre-trip and post-trip inspections and the rule change will not affect road safety.

 

Reduce Fleet Costs with Proper Pre and Post Trip Inspections

It is no secret that vehicle maintenance is near the top of any fleet expenses, with companies reporting average repair and maintenance costs of 16.7 cents per mile, according to the ATRI in 2019.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Every year it is reported that approximately 25-30% of the maintenance-related CSA violations are due to inoperative or defective lighting.

This is likely due to drivers not being given enough time to run a thorough pre-trip or post-trip inspection, or drivers are not being trained to understand the importance of the daily inspections.

A thorough pre-trip inspection should take between 30 and 45 minutes to perform.

A minor problem caught during a pre-trip or post-trip inspection will likely cost less money to fix and should get you back on the road quicker instead of waiting around for a major issue to be fixed. 


DOT Training

All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:

  • driver training that is ongoing and consistent
  • driver education, and
  • driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws

All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

ELD Data Management Made Easy With Driver Scorecards

Telematics Data Management ELD Driver Scorecards

What can fleet managers do to encourage positive driver behavior?

Since most interstate trucking companies were required to add electronic logging devices (ELDs) to their trucks, back-office management has been given an opportunity to better manage their vehicles and drivers when it comes to violations, driving habits, audits, maintenance, and more.

ELD or telematic data management for trucking, construction, distribution industries, or corporate fleets should be formatted to highlight both efficiencies and deficiencies in simple customizable reports.

The best-practice telematics data management plan will measure the data over time to show trends and measure results. This is as simple as a Driver Scorecard for your fleet.

Create a Driver Scorecard from ELD data

ELDs gather millions of data points that include dates, time, longitude, latitude, engine power status, odometer, engine faults, critical events data, harsh braking, hard turning, hard acceleration, HOS violations, idling, speeding, and more.

Many ELD providers, including our partner Pedigree Technologies, have created driver and safety scorecards that are easy to set-up, manage, and pull reports.

For example, Pedigree driver and safety scorecards include stats, such as:

  • # of HOS violations
  • Idling > 20min
  • Idling %
  • Hard Braking event
  • Speeding > 5mph
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Heavy Acceleration event
Pedigree ELD Driver Scorecard
Pedigree Technologies Driver Scorecard Tool

These scorecards are point-based starting at 100 points and any selected stat can remove a certain amount of points based on the severity of the stat you are including in the scorecard. They can be customized further by adding a timeframe duration of the stat or distance traveled.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

For example, a driver can lose 15 points for every time a hard-braking event happens every 100 miles, or a driver can lose 5 points for any Hours of Service Util. % is under 75% per day.

Scorecard reporting can be customized by timeframe (the previous 7 days or month), selected vehicle or vehicle types (semi/long-haul trucks, medium-sized trucks, construction vehicles, etc), and more.

The Pedigree ELD reporting tool also shows if the driver has performed better or worse over the previous week or month.

Does your ELD provider offer similar reporting tools? If not, learn more about Pedigree Technologies


Further ELD Questions? Get a Free Demo

Contact us with any questions. Our ELD specialists can perform a demo with our ELD devices.

Use telematics data for customized video training

Using the telematics reports or driver scorecards can highlight which drivers are struggling in a given area.

For example, the driver scorecard can highlight a habit of hard acceleration and hard braking for one driver, while another driver has a habit of various HOS violations.

These red flags can immediately give the driver a defensive driving, fuel efficiency, HOS regulations, or driver ELD training in their video training schedule.

Customized training should also be measurable using quiz assessments to track driver performance and the ELD driver scorecard can be monitored for improvement after the training was completed. If their training assessment score is low or the habit continues, then the training needs to be retaken or a driver performance review could be scheduled.

Using telematics for driver incentive programs

Implementing ELD data management offers a range of cost-savings to your fleet, including decreased HOS violations and fines, decreased time spent by management monitoring driver behavior, decreased driver turnover or improved driver retention, and decreased risk of crashes and possible lower insurance premiums.

These savings can be given back to drivers through a driver incentive program.

Creating an incentive program around positive behavior has been shown to work for many fleets. Have your team discuss the various behaviors you want to reward and be creative on different ways to reward the good behavior.

For example, if a driver consistently has a great driver scorecard, or has shown improvement over time, the driver can receive a $50 gift card or add an hour of vacation time. The ideas here are endless.

Even a small investment to the driver’s benefit can go a long way.

If your fleet has a disciplinary policy, you can use the driver scorecard to measure clear expectations while drivers are on the road and what steps will be taken should a driver diverge from the policy.


Need help managing your ELD data?

Managing ELD data yourself can be confusing and stressful, and requires a much different back-office skill set than managing paper processes.

However, it does not have to be.

Whatever ELD system you have, we can manage it for you so you can start taking advantage of your ELD data.

What drivers should look for during thorough pre and post-trip inspections

thorough pre and post-trip inspections

The three areas that most violations come from are lights, tires, and brakes

Teaching a driver how to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection is as important as teaching them how to drive the truck.

Some of the easiest things to catch during a driver inspection are also the most common violations written up on a roadside inspection.

Proper pre and post-trip inspections should take at least 30 minutes to perform thoroughly and will reduce vehicle maintenance and violation costs.

This guide was developed based on what DOT inspectors look for at roadside and what maintenance often look for before releasing a vehicle. We will focus on the major sections and important details a driver should inspect, including the:

  • Front of the vehicle
  • Wheels and axles
  • Lights, tires, leaks, and brakes
  • Side of the truck and trailer

Front of the vehicle

Drivers should look for any intersecting cracks or large rock chips on the windshield, especially in the driver’s line of sight.

Honking the horn, whether that is the air horn or steering wheel city-horn, and turning on the windshield wiper is a simple step to make sure they are working properly.

Then, turn on all lights, which include the three marker lights at the top of the cab, clearance lights, and headlights. Test your high-beams, turn signals, and four-way flashers.

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Open the hood and look for any obvious defects.

An easy part for DOT inspectors to check is the pitman arm and steering linkage. If there is any amount of play or looseness where the two gears of the pitman arm meet, it is considered an out-of-service violation and drivers will have to park until it is fixed. Sometimes, if rust is appearing here, it is a good indication that it is not tight.

Finally, check the suspension components. If it looks like your vehicle is leaning to one side, it is a good indicator that there is something wrong with the suspension components.


Vehicle Maintenance: Free Estimate

Contact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your vehicle maintenance.

Wheels and axles

For wheels, check for cracks and loose or missing lug-nuts or wheel fasteners, and look for leaking hub grease.

It is an out-of-service violation for lug-nuts when:

  • 10-lug wheels: 3 are missing anywhere or 2 adjacent to each other, or
  • 8-lug wheels: 2 are missing anywhere

The steer axle is at the front of the power unit and has specific criteria that is different than other axles.

For example, to be in compliance, your required tire tread depth of a steer axle is higher compared to other axles, which are 4/32” depth and, 2/32” depth, respectively.

After the steer axle, we will move back to the drive axles. The first set of drive axles are either a single axle or group of axles that provide power to help move the truck down the road.

Trailer axles are at the back of the trailer. Some of these axles have sliding or tandem axles to help distribute the weight, to stay within regulations of maximum weight for a tandem axle.

If you are adjusting weight by sliding the tandem axles, you want to slide the axles toward the over-weight location. For example, if you are overweight at the rear of the trailer, then sliding the tandem axles further to the rear will help distribute the weight to the forward drive axles.

Tandem axles have notches on each axle. Each notch moves about 250 to 300 pounds to the other group of axles. Drivers may show up at a weigh station and find that they are more overweight then they were before, and that is because they are sliding the axles the wrong direction.

Lights, tires, leaks, and brakes

The three areas that most violations come from are lights, tires, and brakes. For example, low tread depth, damaged sidewalls, and inoperable light are easily visible and usually do not wear out on one trip.

It is important to check for flat or underinflated tires, fluids leaking, that all required lights are working properly, measure brake pushrod travel distance, brake pad thickness, and check brake can, hoses, and rotor surfaces.

It is an out-of-service violation for tires if:

  • Underinflated tires are 50% or less of the sidewall rating
  • There is a noticeable leak heard or felt in a tire
  • The sidewall is cut, worn, or damaged
  • There is a visual bump or bulge on any part of the tire, and
  • If there is exposed belt or cord material

Leaks can come from the fuel tank, so make sure that it is securely mounted, and the fuel cap is the proper cap and is tight. Sometimes the cap is missing after fueling the truck because the driver forgot to put it back on. Be sure to check reefer trailers and auxiliary power unit tanks as well.  

Side of the truck and trailer

Make sure that the air and electric lines are not lying on the deck area. The lines will rub while driving and eventually wear a hole in the lines, causing an air leak and the brake system to not work properly or even failing.

For 5th wheel assembly, make sure all components are secure, there are no cracks or damaged parts, and bolt tightness. Also, check for any rust driplines by the bolts. Rust will eventually cause bolts to be loose.

On the trailer, check for any damage on the trailer, trailer lights are working, any cargo securement devices are properly placed and tightened, and that there is a spare tire and tire chains secured properly.


Vehicles Maintenance

Vehicle maintenance costs can be a huge line item for fleet companies and at times, hard to keep under control. Routine maintenance of your vehicles is a necessity to ensure that your biggest assets always stay on the road.

An experienced and knowledgeable vehicle maintenance partner can make all the difference.

CNS can effectively manage your vehicle maintenance to meet your specific driving demands. We effortlessly handle an unlimited number of preventive maintenance schedules for all the vehicles in your fleet.

Serving your customers is your business; maintaining your fleet should be ours. Depend on CNS to keep your vehicles on the road and benefit from our expertise and gain a partnership that is dedicated to your success.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

How Successful Driver Training Programs Reduce Driver Turnover

reduce driver turnover with driver training

Reducing driver turnover = Improved safety and reduced violation costs

Trucking has had a high driver turnover rate for decades and continues to climb above 90% for larger carriers and around 73% for smaller carriers.

Much of the driver turnover problem is caused by a large percentage of drivers leaving within the first 90 days of on-boarding with a new company.

While a complete hiring program includes a strong driver qualification process seeking stable drivers, meeting driver needs, healthy company culture, competitive driver pay, and more, carriers may solve a big part of the driver retention puzzle by focusing on a successful driver training program.

This includes covering important orientation and safety training quickly and, in many cases, across multiple locations to make sure all drivers are being adequately prepared.

Before we look at what a successful driver training program looks like…

Why is reducing driver turnover so important?

Reducing high driver turnover improves fleet safety and violation costs

A data firm, Vigillo, recently completed an analysis of driver turnover as they monitored FMCSA violations and crashes for nearly 2,000 trucking fleets in the United States.

Their analysis found that a group of fleets with high driver turnover had 1,177 total crashes. The low driver turnover group had just 303 total crashes.

“There is a pretty strong correlation between the safety culture that exists at a motor carrier, which can be measured in CSA, and turnover rates,” said Vigillo CEO Steve Bryan.

Their data revealed that fleets with high driver turnover had:

  • 189% more driver out-of-service rate
  • 300% more vehicle out-of-service rate
  • 181% more hours-of-service violations
  • 224% more crash indicators
  • 640% more hazmat violations, and
  • 182% more controlled substance violations

According to FMCSA annual violation data, fleets regulated by the DOT have paid over $27 million annually in fines, which breaks down to an average of $5,074 per case for violations. With HAZMAT, this average nearly doubles.

Many of these violations will also place the truck out-of-service until the issues are fixed. Being placed out-of-service for 10 hours while a maintenance shop is fixing the truck can cost a fleet around $900 more.

This is why it is so important for fleets to reduce high driver turnover.

But how? A successful driver training program is a critical starting point.


Driver Training: Free Estimate

Contact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your driver training.

What is included in a Successful Driving Training Program?

On-the-job training and orientation

On-the-job driver training

Some fleets, such as Crete Carriers and Shaffer Trucking, require several weeks on-the-job training with senior driver evaluators.

New drivers are evaluated carefully on their ability to maintain control of the tractor, shifting gears properly, backing the trailer correctly, paperwork preparation, and interaction with customers.

On-the-job training is intended to provide drivers with an accurate picture of the life that professional drivers lead.

Driver orientation

Orientation is standard across all companies, but fleets with lower driver turnover are using it to reveal their company culture and help drivers smoothly transition into the new company.

A company handbook should be issued and covered during orientation along with more information on basic paperwork preparation, company safety policies, rules for logbook preparation, and handling hazardous materials.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Orientation should have an emphasis on communication, company expectations and the role of a truck driver. Drivers need to know they have somewhere to turn for help, including Safety Managers, HR staff, or even co-workers..

This is also the opportunity to pass out company swag, such as hats, insulated coffee mugs, shirts, and more.

Near-term customized video training

Each driver comes with their own experiences, skills, and flaws. A strong driver qualification process, on-the-job training, and driver orientation can highlight areas where a new driver can improve.

For example, if driver trainers notice a habit of hard acceleration or hard braking, they should make sure a video training schedule includes driving fundamentals and defensive driving topics.

Similarly, if there is a pattern of logbook errors, include logbook training and hours of service rules into their video training schedule.

All custom schedules should be accompanied by common new driver training, such as reviewing common maintenance and pre-trip inspection training, what to expect during a roadside inspection and how to treat inspectors, highlight drug testing processes and marijuana regulations, seasonal safe driving tips, cargo securement training, etc.

Customized training should also be measurable using quiz assessments to track  driver performance. If their assessment score is low, then the training needs to be retaken.

Focusing on new technology

The idea that trucking is as simple as, “get in a truck and drive,” is such an old idea. Trucking is a sophisticated job that drivers are doing, and technology has made it even more complex. 

Today, new technology and equipment analyzes and optimizes nearly every facet of fleet efficiency. This includes electronic logging devices, dashcams, and fleet management software that driver must be trained to use.

According to a recent KeepTruckin survey, only 21% of drivers are happy with the quality of their ELD solution, and 73% of drivers experience one or more ELD issue per week.

This is why driver training and new driver onboarding is so crucial. In the first few months of their employment, a driver may feel frustrated with your ELD solution and quit.

Fleets need to make sure that drivers thoroughly understand the ELD they are using and new drivers should have their first several logs audited to ensure they are following company policy and Federal guidelines.

Company managers should be able to use their ELD reports to highlight negative driver habits and customize driver training programs to correct issues before they become an expensive problem.

What else can be done to reduce driver turnover?

Going beyond driver training to reduce high driver turnover

A successful driver training program is complicated.

It includes clear communication from:

  • driver orientation
  • driver qualification file management
  • ELD reports and management
  • on-the-job training
  • customized driver training, and
  • driver training that includes a video platform, in-person training, and regular safety meetings

Managing everything on your own is overwhelming and missing any little detail can lead to audits, fines, and high driver turnover and having someone handle your driver training can be helpful, but may not be enough.

What if there was a complete and affordable DOT Compliance Program to handle all the tedious and difficult office paperwork?


DOT Compliance Programs (PSM)

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM),a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Reduce Vehicle Maintenance and Violation Costs with Proper Pre and Post Trip Inspections

pre and post trip inspection

A thorough pre-trip inspection should take between 30 and 45 minutes to perform.

Every year it is reported that around 25 to 30% of the maintenance-related CSA violations are due to inoperative or defective lighting.

Why does this continue to happen?

The simple answer is:

  • drivers are not given enough time necessary to run a thorough pre-trip or post-trip inspection, or
  • drivers are not being trained to understand the importance of the daily inspections.

The reality is, teaching a driver how to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection is as important as teaching them how to drive the truck.

The Importance of Pre and Post Trip Inspections

A thorough pre-trip inspection should take between 30 and 45 minutes to perform.

Some of the easiest things to catch during a pre-trip inspection are also the most common violations written up on a roadside inspection.

For example, low tread depth and damaged sidewalls are easily visible and usually do not wear out on one trip.

According to the DOT, in 2015 63% of roadside inspections were triggered by a commercial motor vehicle being driven with an observable defect, including:

  • inoperable lights
  • deflated tires
  • cargo securement
  • missing placards, and
  • fluid leaks

All of the above can be caught without sliding under the truck.

In fact, the most common method roadside inspectors use to select a vehicle for inspection is whether or not there is a visual defect.

Drivers just need to be educated on what they are looking for and what the DOT is looking for when they are going to write up a violation.


Driver Training: Free Estimate

Contact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your driver training.

Preventing Vehicle Maintenance and Violation Costs

It is no secret that vehicle maintenance is near the top of any fleet expenses, with companies reporting average repair and maintenance costs of 16.7 cents per mile, according to the ATRI in 2019.

A minor problem caught during a pre-trip or post-trip inspection will likely cost less money to fix and should get you back on the road quicker instead of waiting around for a major issue to be fixed.

Also, it is better to catch an issue before hitting the road as roadside repairs generally cost three to five times more than repairs in the shop or the extra cost of towing the truck to a shop.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

According to FMCSA annual violation data, fleets regulated by the DOT have paid over $27 million annually in fines, which breaks down to an average of $5,074 per case for violations. With HAZMAT, this average nearly doubles.

Many of these violations will also place the truck out-of-service until the issues are fixed. Being placed out-of-service for 10 hours while a maintenance shop is fixing the truck can cost a fleet around $900 more.

Accident costs take more time recover from

When it comes to accidents preventable by  pre or post-trip inspections, hidden costs of an accident can be 4 to 10 times greater than the visible costs.

Visible costs:

  • cargo damage
  • vehicle damage
  • personal injury costs
  • medical costs
  • loss of revenue
  • increased insurance premiums and deductibles
  • towing costs
  • storage of the damaged vehicle

Hidden costs:

  • lost customers
  • lost sales
  • lost productivity
  • cost to hire or train replacement workers
  • loss of, or damage to, third-party property
  • vehicle replacement
  • damaged equipment downtime
  • accelerated depreciation of equipment
  • tarnished public perception
  • charges from government agencies to replace or repair property
  • and more

The FMCSA found that the average cost of a truck crash involving a tractor-trailer pulling one trailer was  $172,000, and for two or three trailers, the costs amount to over $500,000.

To recover the cost of a single accident, a company would need to generate over $7,000,000 of additional revenue to pay the costs of the accident, assuming an average profit margin of 2%.


DOT Training

All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:

  • driver training that is ongoing and consistent
  • driver education, and
  • driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws

All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.