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
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.
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.
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.
- cargo damage
- vehicle damage
- personal injury costs
- medical costs
- loss of revenue
- increased insurance premiums and deductibles
- towing costs
- storage of the damaged vehicle
- 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%.
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.
2020 DOT Inspection Readiness – now
re-scheduled for Sept. 9-11
The annual International Roadcheck—conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) in late this year—is a high-visibility reminder of the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety. The 2020 International Roadcheck is now scheduled for Sept. 9-11.
Let’s review a few important notes and changes for the 2020 International Roadcheck.
Date change for 2020 International Roadcheck
Historically, the International Roadcheck has happened the first week of June. In 2020, the DOT inspection dates planned to have been moved up a month to take advantage of potentially more favorable weather conditions.
This year, the CVSA’s International Roadcheck was supposed to happen May 5-7, 2020, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is now re-scheduled for Sept. 9-11.
Law enforcement will also be paying closer attention to unsafe driving behaviors of both truck and car drivers July 12-18 as part of the CVSA Operation Safe Driver Week.
In July, more than 10,000 citations, warnings issued to truckers during Operation Safe Driver Week, mostly for speeding and seat belts.
Also, the annual Brake Safety Week enforcement blitz is scheduled for August 23-29, 2020 with no plans of being postponed this year.
“During last year’s International Roadcheck inspection and enforcement initiative, brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for 45.1% of all out-of-service conditions. That’s more than any other vehicle violation category. And during last year’s Brake Safety Week, 13.5% of the commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related vehicle inspection item violations and were placed out of service,” the CVSA statement reported.
DOT inspection focus for 2020 International Roadcheck
Primarily, the International Roadcheck conducts the North American Standard (NAS) Level I Inspection, which includes 37 steps in two main inspection categories:
- driver operating requirements
- vehicle mechanical fitness
- Note: hazardous materials/dangerous goods are sometimes part of a Level I inspection
Depending on other factors, an inspector could conduct a:
- Level II inspection (walk-around driver/vehicle)
- Level III inspection (driver/credential/administrative) and/or
- Level IV inspection (vehicle-only)
Each year, there is also a special category focus. This year’s now-postponed Roadcheck focus is on the driver requirements category.
This includes driver CDLs, medical cards, seat belts, records of duty status, ELD compliance and more – during the 72-hour ramp-up in enforcement.
CVSA’s President, Sgt. John Samis of the Delaware State Police, commented that due to the US Federal mandate for electronic logging device compliance, “this year’s International Roadcheck would be the perfect opportunity to revisit all aspects of roadside DOT inspection driver requirements.”
What to expect during the CVSA International Roadcheck
At a minimum, drivers should anticipate the following procedures during a roadside DOT inspection:
- inspector greeting, interview, driver preparation
- collection/verification of driver documents
- motor carrier ID
- license examination
- records check (duty status and periodic inspection reports)
- certification check
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate
- Skill Performance Evaluation Certification, and
- daily vehicle inspection report
- other inspections such as driver seat belt usage, illness, fatigue, impairments due to substance use
A roadside DOT inspection would include critical components such as:
- brake systems
- cargo securement
- coupling devices
- driveline/driveshaft components
- driver’s seat (missing)
- exhaust systems
- fuel systems
- lighting devices
- steering mechanisms
- suspension system
- van and open-top trailer bodies
- wheels, rims, and hubs
- windshield wipers
- Buses, motor coaches, passenger vans or other passenger-carrying vehicles: emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments, and temporary and aisle seating
Although this 3-day event spanning from Canada to Mexico intensifies the frequency of inspections, it’s crucial to remember that DOT inspections happen every day of the year.
The FMCSA 2019 data reports 3.36 million inspections last year, with only 67,072 (or, about 2%) happening during the International Roadcheck. The annual data show 944,794 driver violations, with just over 20% (195,545) being for out-of-service conditions.
Obeying safety standards and being prepared for inspection at any time of the year is a vital aspect of any driver’s protocol.
What are CVSA Standards for critical violations?
The basis for violations comes from the CVSA North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria.
There are eight different levels of inspection the CVSA follows. However, truck inspections in the 2019 Roadcheck were only subjected to the North American Standard (NAS) Level I, II and III Inspections.
We can perform a mock audit for you
You can stay ahead of the FMCSA by ensuring your drivers are in compliance before sending them out on the road. We offer many services, but one specifically—DOT Mock Audits—help trucking companies operate with the confidence that they will pass any audits or inspections the FMCSA throws at them.
Basically, in a DOT Mock Audit, we send out a specialist that will conduct an audit in the exact same way a DOT officer would. This can help keep you prepared for any surprise roadside inspection or any future actual DOT audits, and you can be sure that they will happen.