Contributed by David Mitchell, Director of Risk Control & Safety at Aon

 Are stubborn CSA scores giving you nightmares? Shippers are using the scores as a trucking company selection tool, and underwriters are reconsidering pricing for fleets with poor scores. Vehicle maintenance scores are especially stubborn; many fleets have not been able to earn an acceptable score. If your maintenance scores are above the 60th percentile, it’s time to change old habits…..

 There are 2 myths that keep maintenance scores high. The first myth is often expressed as “If my drivers would do the pre-trip inspection they should do, our scores would be much better.”

The second myth is “My maintenance department is all over this”.

To fix items discovered during a pre-trip inspection, your driver will need tools, training, time, and pay. Do you have trained mechanics as drivers; provide hand tools, lights, hoses, air compressor; allow 30 minutes to make repairs; and pay your driver for those 30 minutes? If you do all this, your drivers’ pre-trip inspection and repairs can make a nice improvement in your vehicle scores. More typical fleets can expect that better pre-trip inspections may only result in vehicle maintenance scores of 79 instead of 81.

 Your maintenance department has a 20-year history of managing according to CVSA Out of Service criteria and a department budget based on that criteria. CSA measures all perceived vehicle violations— the Out of Service standards never anticipated this tough level of compliance. In general, fleets are finding that their CSA scores have nine violations for every single Out of Service Violation. Your fleet cannot solve nine violations for the same cost as solving the previous one violation.

Fleets with improved maintenance scores are inspecting and servicing all tractors and trailers more frequently. I recently met with a fleet where service intervals were changed from 10,000 miles to 8,000 miles. As a result, their maintenance scores are better, but maintenance costs are higher.

 Have you released your maintenance director from old budget constraints? Have you retrained all mechanics on the new inspection and service procedures that are now required? Are you spending 30% more on hoses and lights? Is your Maintenance VP accountable for vehicle scores?

If so, “Your maintenance department is all over this.”