The Little Things Make a Big Difference
When it comes to keeping electronic logs, the little things make a big difference. Or as at least one professional driver once told me, there are no small mistakes in trucking.
Since April 1, 2018, the ELD “enforcement deadline,” all ELD violations are reflected in a motor carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score. The violations fall off after two years, improving the score. This means it’s important NOT to incur these violations as your company can be stuck with them for a while.
Every violation is assigned a ‘violation severity weight’ by the DOT. For example, operating with a device that is not registered with FMCSA (49 CFR, Part 395.22A) has a violation severity weight of 5, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Severity weights help differentiate varying degrees of crash risk associated with specific violations.
All logging violations are considered fairly serious.The good news is that they are all controllable, and hence preventable.
What does your Insurance Company Expect?
All violations and crashes are funneled by the DOT into one of seven Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). A higher BASIC score reflects negatively and several BASICs with higher scores can trigger DOT safety compliance reviews, which in turn can result in a negative safety rating (like “Conditional” or “Unsatisfactory”).
The BASICs are not only used by the DOT for enforcement purposes, but also by private industry as an indicator of safety. Shippers and brokers use these scores to vet motor carriers. Trial attorneys like to pound the table with a carrier’s high BASIC scores, if a company is involved in a crash, even a minor fender bender.
And insurance companies use BASICs as a risk indicator.
Each BASICs can range between 0 to 100%. For insurance purposes, every individual BASIC should not be much over 20%. Any BASICs in an “alert” status are not acceptable to the insurance industry. This cannot be emphasized enough. Again, a high BASIC and a fender bender can result in a policy cancellation or jump in premium.
For a small company or a new company, staying under a 20% threshold for any BASIC is very difficult. If a carrier has one out-of-service violation from two roadside inspections, on paper it looks bad. The only way they can improve their situation is by having several more “clean” roadside inspections.
What’s the Solution?
The best cure when it comes to navigating the DOT’s regulatory system, is prevention. Drivers need to know how to use their ELDs, keep essential and supporting documents on the truck, keep paper logs to back up the ELD in case it fails, and know what they are doing when they use their ELDs.
Top Tip: Stop at rest-stops before any open inspection stations and do a quick walkaround, checking tires, lights, logbook status, etc. Fix anything before going through the roadside inspection station. You will likely need to fix it anyway, and don’t need a possible fine and citation, DOT scores in alert status, and higher insurance rates. ■
Thank you for reading this.
Thanks to The Center for Transportation Safety Excellence for use of their graphic.