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FMCSA CSA Proposal Heightens Vehicle Maintenance

Posted on the 22 July 2015 by Ryderexchange

Maintenance RegulationsWhen the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed changes to its Safety Measurement System (SMS) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, the goal was to improve the identification of motor carriers and drivers who pose the greatest safety risk.

The move also broke out a new risk category that could catch many carriers off guard. If adopted, the changes will shine a spotlight on vehicle maintenance and the correlation of Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories’ (BASICs) to crash risk.

Tagged in a new “medium” risk category, the threshold for vehicle maintenance would drop from the current 80% to 75%.

Unsafe driving, crash indicator and hours-of-service compliance still have the strongest relationship to crash risk. Their proposed BASICs intervention threshold of 65% places them in the “high” category.

In the “low” category are controlled substances/alcohol, HM compliance, and driver fitness. These would rise from 80% currently to 90%, reflecting their lower correlation to crash risk.

The proposed revisions also will increase the maximum vehicle miles traveled, from 200,000 to 250,000 miles, used in the utilization factor to more accurately reflect operations of high-utilization carriers.

These new groupings highlight the relative importance FMSCA is placing on each category, but especially vehicle maintenance. The “medium” designation suggests the administration will become stricter, and less arbitrary, when identifying vehicle maintenance when comparing crash rates to compliance scores.

Experienced carriers know the implications. SMS compliance scores are publicly accessible through the FMSCA system, and for carriers who have lacked a formal vehicle maintenance program, the combination of public accessibility and heightened reporting could become costly red flags – or worse.

Low CSA scores help keep insurance premiums low in kind. Astute brokers, freight forwarders and others shippers often choose carriers with scores below the threshold.

If a truck with scores over the threshold passes through a weigh station, an officer could target the vehicle for inspection, a citation or removal from service.

What’s worse, should a vehicle with a poor maintenance history be involved in an accident, an investigation could reveal a pattern of failure to perform pre- and post-trip maintenance.

The implications are clear: FMSCA is placing heightened scrutiny and importance on vehicle maintenance. If your fleet lacks a consistent vehicle maintenance regimen, engage a 3PL partner to discuss ways to bring your fleet into compliance.

Click here to read a previous blog on the financial implications of FMSCA’s proposed revision of minimum levels of financial responsibility. The 30-day comment period for the proposed SMS enhancements will end on July 29, 2015. Click here to learn more.

Authored by Andrew Leavitt

By Andrew Leavitt ([email protected]) is a Senior Manager of Safety and Loss Prevention for Ryder System, Inc. Andrew often hosts webinars on Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance and motor carrier liability, as he strives to help Ryder customers and others understand critical industry regulations.


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