Equipment maintenance software takes the guessing out of safety compliance

Investing in freight management software is an effective way for fleet owners in the trucking industry to always be assured that their vehicles are safe and compliant with federal regulations. Rules outlined in various federal programs are often prone to sudden changes. What passed for compliance a couple of years ago may no longer go far enough today.

Agencies such as the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) have made significant efforts to crack down on trucking operations that fail to meet established safety guidelines. In 2010, the FMCSA introduced a new regulatory system aimed at reducing the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads. According to the organization's website, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative seeks to add more flexible, efficient and technologically-relevant means for motor carriers to make daily assignments safer for drivers and other vehicle operators on the road. For example, the program includes an unsafe driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) in which inspectors compare data from multiple businesses to determine if specific organizations are compliant with the CSA rules. There are seven other data comparison categories as well.

Trucking companies, other agencies call on FMCSA to change rules
Many transportation organizations have been critical of the CSA initiative ever since its implementation. The federal government's own Government Accountability Office completed a review of the regulations and determined that a variety of changes need to be made to make sure they are as effective and fair as possible. Specifically, the agency found there was insufficient data to justify the practice of comparing inspection, compliance and collision data with other firms. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently issued a press release praising the GAO for its comprehensive review of the program.

"While ATA has long supported CSA's objectives, we can't help but agree with GAO's findings that the scores produced by the program don't present an accurate or precise assessment of the safety of many carriers," Bill Graves, president and CEO of the ATA, said.

An article in the online publication Truckinginfo reported that the GAO also determined many of the regulations the FMCSA uses to create safety scores for motor carriers simply aren't violated enough to warrant a reasonable connection to an increase in traffic accidents. One of the solutions offered by the GAO was to update the safety scoring initiative to only measure those businesses that have a substantial amount of data.

Equipment maintenance software makes compliance easier for small companies
Any future changes to CSA will have an effect on trucking operations. In fact, the ATA press release highlighted the fact that the current structure of the regulations places unfair scrutiny on small and midsize fleet companies. These carriers account for more than 95 percent of the entire industry. Constantly changing federal rules can create obstacles for managers who must already juggle a variety of issues on a daily basis. The need to constantly perform maintenance on heavy-duty trucks can lead to organizational issues. Complying with federal programs also takes a comprehensive effort from multiple members of staff.

Equipment maintenance software is an especially valuable resource for small carrier organizations. With automated technology, fleet owners have the ability to schedule routine vehicle upkeep. While there are several factors that contribute to road safety, mechanical problems in older trucks are an especially important issue to address, as they may increase the chance of an accident even if the driver is compliant with other regulations, such as wearing a seatbelt, following traffic laws and obeying the speed limit. Utilizing an advanced software program means businesses no longer have to worry about neglecting mechanical issues during busy periods. The convenience of storing safety and equipment data electronically also makes it easier to comply with regulations. Federal agencies frequently make updates to their programs, which can easily throw firms off if they are not fully prepared. The right freight management software will allow fleet owners to keep their trucks in good enough condition to meet even the most stringent requirements. A more complete understanding of the current state of vehicles will also make it easier for managers to enforce safety on their own watch instead of relying on federal inspectors.