When it comes to compliance, many modern construction fleets simply cannot keep up with the constantly changing regulatory landscape—let alone how Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations directly impact fleet operations and finances.
In fact, many are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of FMCSA regulations and how they apply to their organization. While many regulations are industry-specific, compliance issues surrounding vehicle inspections impact every fleet.
What types of inspections should be performed?
There are two major sections in FMCSA regulations that apply to inspection procedures and requirements, §392 and §396. These regulations outline what fleets are expected to examine during pre-trip and post-trip inspections and what they need to show when producing records for law enforcement at DOT checkpoints or in the event of an audit.
The very real financial impact of FMCSA compliance
While there is some controversy over what each fleet should inspect, there is very little dispute over the high cost of ignoring vehicle inspection compliance. According to §386, Appendix B in FMCSA guidelines, if critical vehicle defects found in the inspection process are not addressed, fines could be anywhere from a few hundreds dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per violation. In other words, staying compliant should be a top priority for every fleet.
In general, there are two major ways that overlooking compliance impacts the fleet: non-compliance and out-of-service vehicle violations.
While there are a wide range of violations surrounding non-compliance, none is quite as prevalent as or more costly than falsifying a driver log. In 2015, the average fine for a falsified driver log was $9,394.
According to the 2016 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, the FMCSA reports that of all roadside inspections in 2015, more than 20 percent resulted in out-of-service violations. Since violations can result in hundreds of dollars per day/per vehicle, the above statistic should be alarming to anyone involved in managing a fleet. This is especially true since it doesn’t include roadside repairs, which often cost three to five times the amount of in-house repairs.
The legal impact of non-compliance
In general, juries are not very forgiving when safety issues are ignored by fleet managers. When safety issues are ignored, legal fines tend to increase. Additionally, legal defense costs are likely to increase due to the very specific nature of FMCSA-related compliance and fleets may have to bring in high-dollar legal specialists to help defend against such allegations.
Gain control over the inspections process in three easy steps
- Start by listing out any vehicle defects. This should definitely include defects that pose a potential safety threat to the vehicle operator—especially if this could result in a vehicle breakdown or accident.
Have a mechanic or third-party repair service prove and/or certify that the defect has been addressed, repaired or deemed unnecessary to repair. Drivers cannot make claims that vehicle defects have been addressed without a certifying mechanic.
If there were defects reported in a the previous driving shift’s driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR), review defects and work with a mechanic to certify that repairs have been made.
Compliance is complex, but shouldn’t be complicated
Regulatory compliance is complex and always changing. Staying compliant requires a lot of documentation and involves a variety of people both inside and outside of an organization. The good news is that while staying compliant is complex, it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a wide range of modern, electronic tools to help track every aspect of the inspection process from start to finish.