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When it comes to safety, follow the BASICs

By: sschnipper April 21, 2024

As featured in FleetOwnerIDEAXCHANGE – Gino Fontana

When it comes to ensuring vehicle safety, it is pretty basic. At least according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA—Compliance, Safety, Accountability—initiative that relies on seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

The BASICs cover a variety of safety-related issues for the truck itself and the driver. You probably already know these, but here is a little refresher. The seven BASICs are: Unsafe driving, Hours of service compliance, Driver fitness, Controlled substances and alcohol, Vehicle maintenance, Crash indicator, Hazmat compliance

In this blog, I want to focus on two of the BASICs that I think are very important.

The hours of service (HOS) BASIC is one that a lot of fleets struggle with. It requires a great deal of planning on the part of people within the fleet who build the routes and dispatchers who send drivers out.

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) have made it easier for enforcement officers to see HOS violations, so driver hours must be tracked meticulously so fleet management knows whether a driver has the necessary hours to legally complete a delivery.

As shippers or receivers, it is impossible to predict accidents and detention that will delay a driver. But knowing the exact amount of time your drivers have left to legally drive can allow you to make your deliveries on time while avoiding an HOS violation.

As a side note, it has become increasingly difficult for drivers to find safe and legal parking spaces, so make sure you factor that into your routing so a driver can get to a safe parking spot without violating HOS or without stopping well before their hours run out because they are concerned about their ability to find parking.

The unsafe driving BASIC is another one that is interesting because there are violations the driver gets caught for, but there is also unacceptable driving behavior that never gets caught.

Let’s look at speeding as an example. A driver can get pulled over and issued a citation for speeding, but what about the times they are speeding and never get pulled over? Be honest, how many times have you been driving your car over the speed limit without getting stopped by law enforcement? Just because you don’t get caught does not mean you are driving safely.

Behavior such as speeding has been shown to play a role in vehicle crashes, and the crash indicator basically focuses on reportable crashes and looks at both frequency and severity when determining your CSA score.

The good news is that fleet managers have tools at their disposal to monitor driver behavior. Telematics devices and ELDs can be programmed to send fleet managers reports when a driver is exceeding the speed limit for a pre-determined period of time. We all know that a driver may occasionally speed in order to pass another vehicle, but passing typically does not take a great deal of time.

Using the data from telematics devices and ELDs allows fleet managers to be proactive about safety and to coach drivers so they drive more safely. Having data takes some of the emotion of the conversation between the driver and manager. It’s hard for a driver to argue with data. When a manager can say to a driver “Last night at 7:30 on I-35 you were going 72 mph in a 50 mph zone for two minutes,” a more robust conversation about driving behavior can occur. It is possible that the driver may not even have realized they had been speeding, especially if they were keeping up with the traffic around them.

While the driver ultimately is responsible for driving the truck in a safe manner, managers play a role in ensuring HOS limits are not exceeded and in working with drivers to correct unsafe driving practices.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about the maintenance and driver fitness BASICs.