Have you heard of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulation governing driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs)? Complying with them is supposed to be a simple task.
To comply, they outline four simple steps:
- Truck drivers must conduct a pre- and post-trip inspection.
- Truck drivers must record all safety-related vehicle defects.
- Truck drivers must submit the reports to their fleet managers.
- Maintenance must be scheduled before the vehicle is returned to active service.
In reality, these steps are loosely followed. Either truck drivers are half-heartedly scribbling nothing while management takes its time acting on any reported issues. Curious as to how we come by that information? Just take a look at the share of maintenance violations bulging the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program metrics.
Over the past 24 months alone, over half of reported CSA violations are related to maintenance problems. Lights, brakes and tires rank at the top of the defect violation list. The highest concentration of maintenance violations can be found in California, where the total number is around 70 percent of the state’s overall total.
From Paper to Electric
One of the best way to address the problem with driver inspection reports is through the use of electronic DVIRs. They are widely available and can be fully integrated with most modern fleet telematics systems. Many motor carriers are already using them in concert with electronic logs.
In some case studies, after fleets have installed telematics systems that include electronic DVIRs have greatly reduced cost while increasing operational efficiency and compliance.
These advanced systems often come with portable display units installed outside the cab. The unit tracks the truck driver to ensure they walked all the way around the cab through RFID zones placed strategically around the vehicle. Once the truck driver scans each zone, the inspection is marked complete in an app or heads-up display.
Information captured by these systems also make if quite easy to determine what may be wrong. Fleet mechanics can be instantly notified by email if a defect is reported, while also having visibility on the location, truck driver, and reporting time.
Truck drivers also like them because they can be assured fleet mechanics are seeing the information they are reporting, without it having to be passed through someone else first.
Telematics providers have been increasingly expanding the capabilities and connectivity solutions available with electronics DVIR devices, mobile apps, e-logs, and more. Some software providers have even released forms-based software applications that fleets can customize to create their own inspection process.
The forms can be set up in a proprietary software system and will prompt the truck driver to capture pictures of any defects and provides a signature area for verification of the report.
Full Maintenance Integration
Beyond simply capturing inspection information, new trends involve using DVIRs in conjunction with maintenance management software. Full vertical integration into the repair process creates new opportunities where cost and efficiency are concerned.
Vendors are providing new systems that integrate repair order scheduling with critical defect notifications. Cloud-based systems allow fleet technicians to manage service events and repair orders. The software itself can manage almost the entire process.
When a defect is entered into the DVIR, the system sends a notification to the shop and automatically schedules the repair. If the defect is safety-related, the system can prevent the truck from being put into service until the repair work is completed.
As the CSA program ramps up the pressure on fleets nationwide, it’s ever more important to ensure you’re staying on top of vehicle maintenance. As such, interest is growing in technologies like DVIR, which make once error-laden processes much more effective and efficient.
The fact is, once you integrate these processes into your fleet’s operation, only good can come from it. When there’s no paper to be misplaced, vital information doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.