Trucking Safety Series: Vehicle Maintenance
Posted by Cliff J. on June 6, 2016 in Trucker Focus

The FMCSA Compliance Safety and Accountability program has seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) These BASICS are intended to improve the highway safety of motor carrier’s. Our Trucking Safety Series by Acuity’s in-house trucking specialist, Cliff J., is a seven-part series that will highlight each of these BASICs and provide insight into what each one is, and why they are crucial to your trucking business. This month’s BASIC is Vehicle Maintenance.


As a trucker, if you’ve driven a truck for any period of time, you have seen the scale house “OPEN” and wonder if that tire will pass or if that marker light is still working. The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC addresses the requirements within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to safely maintain a commercial motor vehicle and to prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and overloading of a commercial motor vehicle.


If you have ever paid the bills for truck or trailer maintenance you would probably agree that maintenance is cheaper when problems are caught early. Such as before a catastrophic failure and the resulting downtime that results. This could be as simple as a drive line u joint missing one of its retention bolts or a cracked saddle tank strap found during your pre-trip inspection.


In the US, in approximately the last 24 months there have been a total of:

•6,841,576 CMV inspections, of those inspections:

•60% (4,107,587) were inspections with violations, of that 60%:

•18% (1,213,738) resulted in OOS violations with the majority being related to mechanical defects of the CMV.


Of course we know there isn’t just one, two, or even twenty mechanical items enforcement officers are looking for. They will inspect the equipment looking for any safety defect they can find. These can include:

  • Leaking or wet wheel seals
  • Discharged fire extinguisher
  • Broken or worn suspension
  • Windshield wiper broken
  • Loose ball joint or evidence of worn kingpins and so much more


When your company is in alert status for the Maintenance BASIC there are some general items that are the most common to be found during a roadside inspection. I will call these areas my BLT. No, it does not stand for my bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich I had for lunch the other day; it does stand for brakes, lights and tires. Within the Maintenance BASIC focusing on these three areas addresses a small majority of mechanical violations received by motor carriers and will help improve your Maintenance BASIC.


If an in office “operations” investigation is conducted, a DOT investigator may request documents such as roadside inspection reports, vehicle maintenance files, annual vehicle inspection reports, accident reports, and evidence of driver training on load securement, from the motor carrier. Motor carrier’s should keep these documents organized and available and know that enforcement investigators may use them to assess the severity of any safety issues identified with the motor carrier.


Motor carriers can also help improve their Maintenance BASIC by having and training their truck drivers and maintenance technicians on your company’s Maintenance Program. For example, what does a driver do, if during their post or pre-trip inspection, they notice a cracked spring on the tractor? Or maybe it is something simple like a marker light out on the trailer. Having a maintenance Program in place and training affected employees on company procedures and expectations will provide you rewards in lowering your maintenance BASIC score, controlling your costs and increasing your equipment’s uptime.


For more information and ideas on improving the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, see the Safety Management Cycle for this BASIC. Also, the FMCSR’s Part 396 Inspection, Repair and Mainteance Regulation is a helpful tool.


If you have any questions, please email Acuity’s trucking specialist, Cliff J., at

Cliff J. is our Trucking guru
I bring over 30 years of trucking industry experience to Acuity. I worked my way up from driving to managing the safety operations of a transportation company, culminating in owning and managing my own regional trucking company. My main goal at Acuity is to help you, the motor carrier, the owner/operator and the driver better understand the insurance industry and help shape Acuity’s products and services to better meet your needs. I regularly provide ongoing trucking training to Acuity employees to help them understand the unique needs of those in the trucking/transportation industry. With over 30 years in the transportation sector, as both a company driver and as owner and manager of a trucking company, I have first-hand experience that helps me understand the challenges truckers’ face, and detailed knowledge of transportation regulations. My experience coupled with a background in insurance loss control can help answer and provide solutions to any issues that may arise.

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