The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides guidance and regulations for the more than 5 million trucks and buses on the roads in the United States. The FMCSA places safety as a top priority for carriers to ensure the smooth travel for truck drivers and motorists alike. According to FMCSA there have been more than 6,000 critical safety violations found in investigations this year and more than 40,000 non-critical violations so far in 20171. A dedicated fleet provider experienced in adapting to regulations and implementing the guidelines and programs can keep those on the road safe, avoid costly violations, and minimize supply chain delays.
Why do the BASICs matter?
The Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) were established by FMCSA in 2010 as part of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. The BASICs are the seven guiding areas for determining a driver’s CSA score, and ultimately impacts a carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) record, an identifier for the standard of safety a carrier has2. Compliance and good BASIC and CSA scores can give drivers the chance to bypass weigh stations, potentially resulting in saved time, money, and improved fuel efficiency3.
The data and violations are accumulated by FMCSA through roadside inspections, accident reports, and investigation results. Each infraction results in a certain number of points therefore the lower the score, the better safety record a driver and carrier has3.
Tips for Improving BASICs
Having a thorough understanding of the BASICs and training drivers in the seven areas can help ensure continued safe practices and an efficient supply chain.
Having an awareness of traffic on the road and staying focused can keep a driver’s eyes and mind on the task at hand. According to the National High Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2016 alone4. Use of cell phones, eating, or adjusting navigation systems are just a few things that can distract a driver. Dedicated transportation providers can ensure proper training, leading to focused drivers with safe deliveries. The consistent routes of dedicated fleets provide drivers with a familiar daily routine and minimize the need to adjust GPS systems. In addition to safe deliveries, this can result in reduced disruptions and better service.
Crash indicators are determined from a driver’s past accident history and driving record and can impact driver and carrier scores. A 3PL that equips its trucks with technology such as early braking systems or lane departure assist can give drivers the advantage on the road and help prevent accidents5.
The FMCSA has requirements in place for hours-of-service requiring drivers to obtain the rest needed to properly operate a truck. For example, drivers must have 10 consecutive hours off duty after driving a maximum of 11 hours6. These rules work to ensure the safety of the drivers and others on the road. A 3PL with regulation experience can ensure drivers are meeting the required rest period under the hours-of-service rule through detailed electronic logging and proper management practices.
Proper vehicle maintenance is key in operating any vehicle, especially for truck drivers. Pre and post-trip inspections are required to prevent CSA violations. Utilizing an inspection checklist that looks at areas such as proper tire inflation, headlights, and brake function can identify a small issue before it becomes a bigger problem7.
According to the Department of Transportation, the overall 2016 drug testing failure rate increased from 1.85 percent in 2015 to 1.98 percent in 20168. Utilizing a dedicated fleet provider with a compliant hiring practices and drug and alcohol education programs in place can help ensure the integrity of freight and prevent interruptions in service.
Hazardous Materials Compliance
Hazardous materials and specialty chemicals come with increased regulations and special handling such as storage or temperature requirements. Utilizing a 3PL with an expertise compliance that is up to date with regulations can make sure product is not only handled safely but meets the guidelines established for the goods.
According to the Center for Disease Control, seven out of 10 long-haul truck drivers are obese which can lead to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke9. These health challenges can ultimately disqualify a driver from receiving a CDL and result in an increased driver shortage. To avoid disruptions in the supply chain, a carrier that emphasizes driver health programs and ensures employees pass required physicals before driving can establish the foundations for a healthy workforce.
BASICs provide a driver with the keys to operating safely. Following the BASICs or working with a dedicated carrier that is thorough with the guidelines gives shippers a safe and compliant supply chain. 3PLs offer an expertise in regulations with the adaptability to adjust to changes and new policies quickly and efficiently. This results in safer roads, better service, and reduced potential for costly fines. As regulations continue to evolve, shippers can look to the partnership of a 3PL to remain compliant and keep products and business moving.