3 Ways To Help Your Customers Improve Their Safety Scores (#3 Will Shock You!)
There are usually two reasons why someone might ask, “How low can you go?”
The first is when you’ve done something appalling to them, like switching their regular coffee with decaf.
The second is when you’re doing the limbo, because of course everyone wants to know how low you can go.
In the commercial diesel world, though, there’s a third question related to going low. Yes, friends, we’re talking about the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program (cleverly acronym’d as CSA), which rates the safety of big rigs across the country. (There’s a lot more to it than that, but you can learn more about it in this article.)
In a nutshell, the lower a truck or fleet’s score, the better off we all are. No, folks, we do not want high marks on this particular test. High marks can lead to fines and the dreaded red-tagging, which basically sidelines a truck until repairs are made.
So, how does a fleet manager ensure their safety score is as low as it can go? Teaming up with a repair shop is a good first step. We pinned down Fullbay COO and former Shamrock fleet manager Chris O’Brien to learn more.
WHY YOU WANT A LOWER SAFETY SCORE
Odds are you’re in the industry so maybe this subheader seems a little superfluous, but hey, we’re aiming to inform the general public, too. Reputation is a big deal in the diesel industry.
Everyone can look up a vehicle or motor carrier’s safety score.
A low score doesn’t just mean an unsafe vehicle, by the way. It can close off all kinds of work, including federal. That means no working for school districts. It can also limit something as seemingly innocuous as food delivery to airports, Chris tells us, “because your trucks are unsafe to be on airport property.”
Seem extreme? Think about all the things that can go wrong with an improperly maintained big rig. Can something ignite into an electrical fire? Some trucks have indeed burned to the ground just like cars.
Some fleets have a pristine reputation, which is usually developed after years of low scores. The DOT knows exactly what kind of scores a fleet’s trucks usually throw, and yes, that can influence their decision to pull one over or leave them alone.
Food for thought, huh?
So, now we know why we want a lower safety score. Here’s three things your shop can do today to help your customers do just that.
1. SET UP PM PROGRAMS.
We sing this song a lot.
Lies, Fullbay, you might be saying. You’ve never sung a SONG about preventive maintenance.
But a good PM program catches problems before they become safety issues. And setting up a PM program for a fleet means their vehicles are getting the maintenance and repairs they need when they need them instead of after the fact.
Seriously. The #1 thing you can do for your customers is to take on their PM work. Their safety scores will thank you!
2. OFFER INSPECTIONS.
If you don’t have a PM program for a fleet yet—maybe they’re new business—you can still offer courtesy inspections. Incentivize them a bit: if the inspection yields needed repairs and you make them, the inspection itself is free. You’ll catch safety items and work with the fleet to fix said items. “When that truck gets pulled over, that inspection is also happening on the side of the road. The DOT officer, traditionally, is going to walk the vehicle.”
Inspections can get tricky, though. “You can’t just do hour-long inspections, because you’ve got to pay for that,” Chris says. “So you have to figure out, ‘What’s a meaningful inspection?’” You’ll need to decide how much this time is worth, and what you can look for. Consider what a DOT officer would look for. Consider what a driver does every day when they fill out their reports. You can build a quick, streamlined inspection that ensures a vehicle is safe—and highlights what isn’t.
3. GET INVOLVED IN DVIRS.
The Driver Vehicle Inspection Report contains a multitude of information—after all, it’s written by the very person who’s driving the truck! The driver is often the first line of defense against a poor safety score, because they’re the ones checking the vehicle before firing her up.
Get in on those DVIRs. If you’ve got techs assigned to particular fleets, they should be reviewing DVIRs and looking for violations. “They’ll pull out the safety violations, go to the manager, and tell them, ‘I need these trucks in,’” Chris says.
We’re careful about using the term win-win, but this one really is a win-win. You’re catching violations before they’re caught on the street by the DOT—or worse, before something goes wrong and hurts someone. You’re also bringing in more business for your shop.
“Those are typically repairs that aren’t declined,” Chris says. (And really, if someone wants to keep running unsafe equipment…well, think twice about that customer.)
If you’re using software like, oh, say Fullbay, drivers can submit repair requests right through the customer portal. That can save your shop a step of assigning a tech to dig through DVIR reports. Granted, this takes a certain level of partnership, and it may not be scalable with a huge fleet—but for a smaller or medium-sized fleet, it can be effective.
BONUS INFO: LOWER SAFETY SCORES = FEWER EXPENSES
A truck’s safety score is tied to maintenance. Good maintenance doesn’t just make vehicles safer, it maximizes their uptime.
- Less money spent on emergency repairs and/or towing. If you ignore something…and ignore it…and ignore it…well, eventually what might have been an easy fix is going to get a lot pricier.
- Less civil or criminal liability for a fleet. Often, if there’s a cause for legal action (say an accident that can be traced to poor maintenance), the fleet or company can be held liable. That means lawyers, courtrooms…you get the idea. Not to be cavalier about all this, but—well, that’s a lot of money.
NOW FOR SOME SUPER-COOL NEWS…
Since this article is appearing on the Fullbay website, you might figure Fullbay can help you out with improving safety scores. And you’d be right!
Fullbay’s customer portal makes it easy to help fleets report problems and violations. It’s also, y’know, pretty darn effective at helping shops track PMs for all units of their fleet customers. That means you can take a proactive approach and inform fleet managers when certain units are due for inspections, PMs, and more. More biz for your shop and more protection for your fleet partners? Win-win!
(Psst, Fullbay is also useful for internal repair shops—we can do all of the above for you guys, too.)
Ready to knock down those safety scores? Try our free demo and see how low you can go!