Welcome to our final installment where we look at how to improve your CSA scores. Even though we are facing a wholesale change as CSA scores transform into the IRT model, trucking companies must still live and die by the current model, so we want to cover everything we can to help you make sure your fleet is prepared.
Today, we are going to finish out our look at how you can ensure your CSA scores are in tip-top shape. Let’s first dive into preventative maintenance, pre-trip inspections, and your DVIR. As any fleet manager knows, it is absolutely critical that a systematic maintenance on all vehicles and trailers in the fleet are completed, but what more should they know?
Looking at Inspections
A motor carrier’s truck drivers should be well-trained on how to do pre-trip inspections. The best way to train a truck driver is to provide an example and show them examples of how to do it. Are you properly watching how long your truck drivers spend on an inspection? This should be a matter of company policy and should provide a standard by which all your operators live by.
Note that Federal regulation 396.13 state that the truck driver needs to do the following before hopping in the cab and operating the commercial motor vehicle:
- They must be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition.
- They must review the last driver vehicle inspection report.
- They must sign the duty report and note any defects or deficiencies.
Are you performing simple tests to ensure your truck drivers are performing their pre-trip inspection properly? How many of them should have noticed issues that were not picked up during the inspection? Furthermore, how are they properly ensuring the cargo they are carrying is secured?
Consider that things falling off the truck could not only harm CSA scores, it could cause potential injury or death to other drivers on the road. When a truck driver puts something on the vehicle, they have got to ensure it does not move, is blocked, braced, and tied down.
There are two pre-trip schedules. Schedule A is a pre-trip inspection performed by a mechanic or shop technician. Schedule B is an inspection that generally refers to keeping oil healthy. Annual inspections should be standard operating procedure. Is your fleet ensuring they are completed?
There is something very important to consider. If your fleet transports hazardous materials, you need to make sure your truck drivers are thoroughly familiar with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). Fleets that carry HazMat freight are required to have a higher CSA score than regular motor carriers. Common issues that HazMat carriers must be trained in include:
- Ensuring HazMat goods are classified and packaged correctly.
- Ensuring shipping papers are correct.
- Ensuring correct markings, labels, and placards are present.
- Ensuring an emergency response kit is readily available within the vehicle.
Another thing to consider is the route. HazMat drivers operating on restricted routes can receive a CSA violation. Are you operating with a commercial-grade navigation system that complies with truck-legal routes?
Effective Safety Committee
Not all motor carriers have a safety committee, but yours should. Implementing a safety committee ensures your fleet is safety-conscious. Even more, as CSA moves towards the IRT model, the FMCSA is going to be looking at safety culture as barometer for fleet performance.
A safety committee is designed to learn the root cause of safety issues, as well as how to fix them. Even more, a safety committee cannot be just for show. It must have the authority to implement changes as it sees fit.
In the end, even though CSA is changing, to win the business your fleet is deserved, you need to make sure you have safety on the mind. CSA scores and your bottom line stand to benefit from this mindset.