Drivers who spend their work days on the road need their vehicles to perform efficiently and safely in all conditions. And if you operate a business fleet of commercial vehicles, preventive vehicle maintenance and keeping up on the federal regulations are key to keeping your employees and your property safe.
Vehicle-leasing arrangements will dictate the maintenance type and schedule, but small business owners can create a formal preventive maintenance program to help ensure day-to-day safety requirements are met.
Establishing a structured record-keeping system can help keep employees accountable for vehicle conditions. Record-keeping, along with a preventive vehicle maintenance program, are required by U.S. regulations, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
William Schaefer, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance director of vehicle programs, works to maintain consistent roadside inspections (with its thousands of inspectors) using the federal guidelines established by the FMCSA. Schaefer recommends incorporating the following daily inspection items in your program:
For more information, check out the FMCSA’s New Entrant Safety Assurance Program, for companies who operate commercial motor vehicles. Here, you can set up your safety programs and pre-trip and post-trip inspection plans.
It’s important to keep in mind that commercial vehicles are subject to state or federal safety regulations that will require a more formal approach to vehicle inspections and documentation, according to FMCSA. Compliance checks can be required by federal or state inspectors at any time, and they’re not just for large trucks. Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, including the weight of a trailer, could be subject to a random road check by the CSVA.
Roadside inspections can happen any day of the year, either randomly at a weigh station, or you could be pulled over by an inspector while driving (some states require probable cause, such as a broken headlight; others do not), Schaefer says. The checks focus on vehicle mechanical safety, traffic enforcement, cargo securement and regional rules and regulations. If applicable, drivers will need to present hours-of-service logs, a commercial driver’s license, medical cards and properly filled out pre- and post-trip inspection checklists, according to the CSVA.
With a preventive maintenance plan in place, knowledge of federal and state regulations, and teaching driver responsibility, your fleet should be ready for the road, so your team can focus on providing services to your customers.