The shop and drivers share responsibility for a safe score
By Thomas Bray
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) CSA enforcement program is not just about the front office and the driver. Naturally, the maintenance facility plays a critical role in keeping unsafe vehicles off the road.
The most common and most severe violations under the CSA grading system cited during roadside inspections point directly to the maintenance team.
Tire tread depth less and 2/32-inch Severity level 8
Stop lamp violations Severity level 6
Brakes out of adjustment Severity level 4
No proof of annual inspection Severity level 4
Defective brake hose/tubing Severity level 4
Defective/no lighting/ reflective devices Severity level 3
Oil and/or grease leak Severity level 3
Inoperative headlamp Severity level 2
Accessories in unsafe condition Severity level 2
Used, unsecured or no fire extinguisher Severity level 2
The CSA program tracks a total of 22O maintenance-related violations. Around 170 driver scores are maintenance-related. The violations that create the most damage in the scoring system include:
Out of service vehicle Severity level 10
Tire defects Severity level 8
Suspension defects Severity level 7
Defective lights Severity level 6
Steering defects Severity level 6
Brake defects Severity level 4
If a vehicle maintenance violation results in an out-of-service order, the severity of the violation increases by two.
Any reported violation affects the driver’s CSA score for 36 months; the company score for 24 months.
Catch the small stuff — Vehicles often come under inspection once the officer or inspector spots something visibly wrong — something broken or out of place. Mechanics must repair or correct such easy-to-notice defects before the vehicle hits the road.
Repair and document — A safety-related defect reported by a driver needs to be corrected and documented before the vehicle is driven again. Do not force drivers to operate defective vehicles.
Keep and store accurate maintenance and inspection records — They must be available for at least 12 months.
Implement a documented preventative maintenance program — Prevent problems before they arise — rather than deal with them after a violation.
Qualify mechanics to do the work — Do not perform brake work or annual inspections without proof the maintenance staff can meet the qualification standards for such tasks.
Show proof of inspection — Keep a decal or copy of the annual inspection form on board.
Poor inspection and maintenance reflects in the violations on roadside inspection reports, which affect the scores that carriers receive in the CSA vehicle maintenance category. A conscientious and effective maintenance program for safe and proper working vehicles is the only way to keep the CSA scores low.
CSA scores improve as more time passes with more clean inspections since the last violation.
Thomas Bray serves as Senior Editor, Transportation Management, for J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc.