Written By Blair Koorsen and Tim Shannon
Pre-trip and post-trip inspections help keep vehicles in service, lower Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores, cause fewer accidents and lower commercial automobile insurance costs.
The commercial automobile insurance market for waste and recycling haulers has always been complex. Over the last few years, however, this market segment has experienced substantial price increases. Organizations that understand how insurance rates are determined can help control these costs, even as market conditions drive costs higher. Pre- and post-inspections can potentially help reduce insurance costs.
Determining Insurance Premiums
Insurance carriers use many factors to determine insurance premiums. Many of these factors relate to the overall environment—e.g., the frequency of accidents, the cost of repairs, medical costs for injured parties—but other factors are specific to the business being insured. Business-specific factors to determine rates include:
• Geographic location/area of operation
• Vehicle type and age
• Distance traveled
• Claim history
• Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) scores
Organizations have control over some of these factors, including FMCSA scores. The FMCSA determines how motor carriers rank compared to other carriers in its Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) initiative. The Vehicle Maintenance Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) is one of seven categories measured. This category encompasses appropriately maintaining a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), preventing shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo and overloading violations. Violations adversely affect SMS scores for 24 months.
Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections
When it comes to keeping Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores low, pre-trip and post-trip inspections are crucial. These inspections ensure vehicles are in road-ready condition and help identify problems before they lead to violations or safety issues. Thorough inspections should not be rushed and should take place regardless of the weather and schedules. The following are some best practices related to vehicle pre-trip inspections. Pre-trip inspection protocols should occur before every trip, but will vary depending on the type of vehicle, location, company and requirements. Best practices include checking the functionality and condition of:
• Service brakes, trailer brake connections, parking/hand brake
• Steering mechanism
• Lighting devices and reflectors
• Windshield wipers
• Rear vision mirrors
• Coupling devices
• Wheels and rims
• Emergency equipment
• Safety equipment
After the trip is completed, the post-trip inspection protocol should be identical to the pre-trip inspection protocol, and the driver should fill out a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR). In addition to the driver, the technician and the next driver should sign off on the report. The organization should create a binder for each vehicle’s DVIRs and keep it in the truck or they can use app-based technologies to support this process. Post-trip inspections are just as important as pre-trip inspections in minimizing potential issues and maximizing safety.
Get Management Involved
Pre-trip and post-trip inspection protocols are more effective when drivers, mechanics and management are actively involved. Management should make inspections a priority by holding regular safety meetings and demonstrations that are understandable to all participants. Management can consider implementing an incentive and/or discipline system to ensure that comprehensive pre-trip and post-trip inspections are routine.
Pre-trip and post-trip inspections do not replace preventative maintenance schedules. Preventative maintenance programs must be reviewed and adjusted regularly to remain effective. Managers of preventive maintenance programs should seek input from stakeholders to discover what is and what is not working.
Keeping Insurance Costs Low
Clearly, there are significant benefits to keeping your carrier’s Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores low. Pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspection programs constitute a significant component of Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores. Pre-trip and post-trip inspections help keep vehicles in service, lower BASIC scores, cause fewer accidents and lower commercial automobile insurance costs.
To ensure your organization receives the best risk management advice and access to commercial automobile insurance coverage, you should work closely with your trusted insurance and risk management advisors. Your advisor can help manage your insurance strategies, help with your risk management programs, provide information on compliance and legislative updates, and suggest ways to reduce commercial insurance costs. | WA