Top Five Trucking Maintenance Violations

Tractor-trailer trucks are part of the huge network of vehicles traveling the roads each day. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)--the government agency in charge of regulating the trucking industry and improving commercial motor vehicle safety--has concluded that many corporations cut corners and violate important safety standards, like vehicle maintenance requirements, in order to increase profits for their companies. And, experts say, this dangerous practice is increasing the risk of trucking accidents in Missouri and all across the country.

One in five commercial motor vehicles inspected have equipment violations that are serious enough to make that vehicle illegal to operate on the highways. One in five of the big-rigs on the highway (with your family) should not be on the road.


Vehicle Maintenance Point System Established

Fortunately, the FMCSA is cracking down on truck drivers and commercial trucking companies found violating trucking regulations.

The Administration recently launched its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program (CSA) to measure and evaluate a carrier's safety performances and to intervene to correct a carrier's unfit safety program. The centerpiece of the CSA program is the FMCSA's Safety Measurement System (SMS). The SMS collects safety data from roadside inspections, state-reported crashes, and the federal motor carrier census. The program takes this data and weighs the number of violations and the severity of the violations in six of seven different Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)

The FMCSA has established a rating or point system in which it assigns weighted values to carriers found violating certain trucking requirements.

The FMCSA gives each violation a point rating-10 being the maximum. Major violations known to create a bigger risk of crash involvement are given higher ratings and points than minor violations. For instance, a driver with an inoperative tail lamp will face a higher point violation than a driver with an improper window tint.


Top Five Truck Maintenance Violations

The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC measures a motor carrier's compliance with the FMCSRs in Parts 393 and 396 that require a motor carrier to properly maintain a commercial motor vehicle. Currently, the FMCSA has listed approximately 200 possible vehicle maintenance violations that drivers can face; many of which have a 5 point rating. A recent article discussing these violations revealed the top five most common vehicle maintenance violations found during roadside inspections:

  • Inoperative vehicle lights: These include trucks found without working headlamps, tail lamps, and turn signals;
  • Missing or defective lights: These include commercial vehicles fitted with improper retro-reflective striping or projecting lighting like rotating beacons on oversize loads;
  • Defects not noted on DVIR: These include repair or maintenance issues found by an inspector but not noted by a driver on the driver's Vehicle Inspections Report (DVIR);
  • Tire tread depths less than 2/32 inch: These include trucks found driving on a tire with a single spot worn to less than 2/32 including flat-spotted areas; and
  • Oil and/or grease leaks: These include trucks found operating with oil or grease seepage from their vehicles.

Under the system, if a carrier's BASIC Score is above a certain threshold, the FMCSA will intervene to correct the carrier's safety program. CSA offers an expanded range of intervention tools to the Administration to address a motor carrier's poor performance in a BASIC. These intervention tools range from warning letters to comprehensive on-site reviews.


Keeping a Low BASIC Score Important

Drivers can keep their BASIC score low by creating comprehensive and up-to-date. Vehicle Inspection Reports tally serious issues that need attention such as brakes, lighting, mirrors and wipers. Drivers should relay those problems to their maintenance managers so that they can take action to correct the issues and avoid trucking maintenance violations.

These proactive measures will not only help keep a driver's BASIC score low, but they can also mitigate the potential for trucking accidents.