Log Book Effort Puts 26% of Inspected Truck Drivers Out of Service
In July, concentrated inspections of commercial truck drivers’ log books were completed at four locations on Oregon’s portion of Interstate 5. In total, 26% of inspected drivers were placed out of service, according to preliminary figures from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Motor Carrier Division.
ODOT placed 256 drivers out of service between July 9 and 14 during log book checks at Ashland, Woodburn and Booth Ranch, just south of Roseburg. During the same period, 82 vehicle-focused inspections were conducted that resulted in 54 commercial motor vehicles being placed out of service.
For the first time, Oregon and Washington State carefully coordinated efforts to jointly conduct this expansive hours-of-service operation. The Washington State Patrol also brought its I-5 scales on line for this event. All week long, Oregon and Washington inspectors worked together, sharing data to identify potentially fatigued truck drivers traveling through both states. Of the 862 inspections performed by Washington inspectors along their portion of I-5, 110 drivers were placed out of service. This partnership between the states’ Departments of Transportation will continue into the future.
Oregon’s commercial vehicle safety inspections are not random. Using several sorting tools, including weigh-station records, safety records and information in national databases, ODOT can scrutinize the vehicle and driver. Driver behavior is carefully observed as the vehicle proceeds through an Oregon weigh station. Drivers who look inattentive or fatigued are routinely selected for an inspection. During the inspection, the driver is interviewed and supporting documentation is reviewed to verify the driver’s log book.
You can visit http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT for more information about ODOT Motor Carrier Division’s safety efforts.
Becoming an Owner/Operator
Owning and operating your own truck can be rewarding no matter whether you choose to be a long-haul, regional, truck load or less than truck load operator. Before you buy that truck and head out on the highways, it’s important to have a clear business plan. Here are some tips to help you become a successful self-employed truck driver:
#1: Assess Your Reasons for Being an Owner/Operator
Do you see more benefits from owning your own truck than using a company truck? There are pros and cons to consider in both company-run and operating as an owner/operator. For example, choosing to be an owner/operator offers freedom of choice in the hours, routes and loads that you select. An owner/operator does not have the luxury of company resources for finding profitable loads. You are not only the driver but also the salesman, dispatcher and bookkeeper.
#2: Choose the Best Equipment for Your Operation
As an owner/operator, choose an efficient yet affordable truck. You might be craving a shiny blue Peterbuilt with a giant hotel-like sleeper berth, but performance is always more important than appearance when it comes to your truck. Things to take into consideration are the weight, fuel economy, horsepower and engine.
Remember, the more weight you put into your tractor, the less you’ll be able to fit on the scale, which translates to less money in your pocket. Look for lightweight features like aluminum cross-members. Bells and whistles should always come second. Ultimately, you’ll want your truck to handle any route you drive with maximum fuel efficiency.
#3: Keep Your Truck in Optimal Working Condition
Vehicle maintenance is generally more affordable when tune-ups are handled at timely intervals. Some drivers, however, make the costly error of skimping by without maintenance in hopes of saving money. You will gain better fuel efficiency while keeping repair costs low by completing preventative maintenance on a regular, scheduled basis. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require it. The last thing you’ll ever want is to have your truck break down under a load in some remote area due to poor maintenance.
#4: Steer Clear of Troubled Driving Routes
As an owner/operator, you are bound to face your share of traffic jams, but they can be seriously reduced with proper planning. To expedite your routes and save on fuel, you should map the fastest routes in advance of your trips. Equip your truck with a Global Positioning System (GPS) for notifications on traffic, harsh weather and road construction along each route. A GPS can keep you informed of the most efficient routes to each destination.
#5: Select Good Accountants and Insurance Policies
While working as an owner/operator, it is easy to get bogged down with paperwork and taxes without the help of an accountant or bookkeeper who knows the trucking field. Glostone Trucking Solutions are experts at keeping you focused on your business by taking care of your paperwork distractions.
You should also run comparisons between various insurance plans until you find a policy that solidly backs your interests as an owner/operator. Choice One Insurance is a great company to investigate as you begin your search.
Becoming an owner/operator is not for everyone but for those dedicated to the necessary work involved, it can be a rewarding, lifelong career.
The Secret To Keeping Your CSA Scores Low!
We are often asked “how do I lower my CSA scores?” This question usually comes after Carriers have been refused a load or lost a contract because their scores were too high. The answer, of course, is that there are no quick fixes or shortcuts.
Lowering CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) scores and keeping them low takes commitment to safety by the entire organization. Other necessary elements include knowledge about what is being measured, adequate and frequent training of personnel, creating and following procedures and constant follow up. Lowering scores takes time and not repeating the same mistakes. Setting up, implementing and maintaining the proper safety procedures, known as “Best Practices,” will keep CSA scores low over the long term.
Implementing Safety Best Practices is not an easy task and when done correctly, touches every person involved in your organization, including owners, drivers, dispatchers, mechanics, supervisors, fork lift operators and administrative staff. Even adopting procedures that involve your customers, insurance company and vendors can help.
When looking for a place to start implementing Best Practices, consider that 25% of all roadside inspections are initiated because the enforcement official visually observes a defect on the truck. These roadside inspections result in 75% of all written violations. Using these statistics it’s easy to see that reducing visual defects could reduce the number of inspections received by one-fourth. If you are not being inspected, you are not receiving violations!
It stands to reason that if an enforcement official can see a defect, why can’t the driver? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations outline a mandatory visual inspection process by drivers that include pre-trip, post-trip and Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR). Building Best Practice procedures around these visual inspection processes makes sense to not only comply with the regulations but will get the driver to fix the defect before the enforcement official sees it!
Consider these Best Practice policies and ideas for your organization:
1. Establish a culture within your organization that the pre-trip, post-trip, and DVIR process is extremely important to your company and is mandatory, without exception.
2. Make sure your drivers are properly trained and periodically retrained on what to look for in pre-trip and post-trip inspections.
3. Have a process that tracks the written DVIR document, audits for completeness and notifies you when drivers fail to turn one in. The written DVIR is only required for companies with more than one driver but its importance makes it a great idea for the owner/operator as well.
4. Make sure the driver knows exactly what to do when defects are found so that the problem is fixed prior to becoming a violation.
5. Have a notification process in place so that when a mechanic performs a repair that should have been listed on the DVIR but wasn’t, or a violation was written for a pre-trip inspection item, the owner or safety director is contacted.
6. When drivers miss visual defects, meet with them, and make sure they receive proper training (along with documentation) to ensure this does not happen in the future.
7. Periodically conduct spot checks on the truck for any issues that may have been overlooked by the driver. If drivers know that you will be checking up on them, they will do a better job.
8. Randomly place some sort of sticker or marker in various locations on the units that the driver should see if he/she does a proper pre-trip inspection. Reward those who find the markers. Follow up with those who don’t!
Best Practices don’t have to be complicated. But without them, a company will struggle to survive in this highly regulated and competitive industry. Starting or enhancing your best practices around the pre-trip, post-trip, and DVIR process will make a positive, long term impact on your CSA scores.