Violations and crashes are the result of poor pretrips, right?

By: Tom Bray

Publication: Transportation Safety Management Today

Date Posted: 04/30/2020

Non-driver-related violations important to crash prevention

When researching the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) model, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made an interesting discovery: Carriers that had more carrier-related maintenance violations were more prone to crashes and more likely to be selected for audit if the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC is modified.

To conduct the research, the agency divided violations in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC into two groups based on violation type. It also used the original BASIC data for all vehicle-related safety violations. The two additional groups that were created for the purposes of the study involved dividing violations into:

  • Driver-related violations and
  • Non-driver related violations.

The results on driver-related violations

Carriers with high scores in the driver-related violations group saw the lowest crash rate, at 5.90. Carriers scored under the present Vehicle Maintenance methodology had a crash rate of 6.04. Carriers with high scores under the non-driver-related violation group had a crash rate of 6.61.

The carriers prioritized under the non-driver violation group had a 12 percent increase in crash rate when compared to the carriers in the driver-related violation group, and therefore would be more likely to be selected for audit.

Maintenance may be the key driver crashes

To sum this up, violations tied to maintenance activities (maintenance inspections, preventive maintenance, etc.) have a closer relationship to crash than those that drivers are accountable for discovering during a pretrip inspection. This is not saying that driver inspections have no bearing on accidents, but it does show that non-driver-related violations are more important to crash prevention than most people realize.

This may lead to a rethinking when it comes to the importance of maintenance at carriers that have typically blamed poor driver pretrips for all on-road vehicle problems. This study shows a carrier’s maintenance practices have a lot to do with the safety operation of the vehicle, as well. As a result of this information, carriers should not only look at the effectiveness of their driver inspections, but also the frequency, thoroughness, and effectiveness of their maintenance practices.

About the author
Tom Bray - Transportation Editor

Tom has been with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. since 2005. He brought with him an extensive background that includes years of experience in DOT compliance, policy development, driver human resources, driver training, training program development, CDL testing, claims management, and accident and injury prevention.

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