The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC is one of seven categories that the FMCSA uses to determine how a motor carrier ranks relative to other carriers in its CSA initiative. This BASIC includes violations relating to properly maintaining and loading a CMV.

Proper truck maintenance includes ensuring that lamps and reflectors are working and tires aren’t worn. Examples of roadside safety violations that may cause a motor carrier to rank poorly in this BASIC include operating an out-of-service vehicle or operating a vehicle with inoperative brakes, lights, and/or other mechanical defects. Improper load securement and cargo retention violations are also examples of roadside violations included in this BASIC.

What’s the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC?

A carrier’s measurement for each BASIC depends on the following:

  • The number of violations related to that BASIC
  • The severity of the violations or truck crashes
  • When the adverse safety events occurred (more recent events are weighted more heavily)

All roadside inspection violations that pertain to a BASIC are assigned a severity weight that reflects its association with crash occurrence and crash consequences. The violation severity weighting is assigned on a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 represents the lowest crash risk and 10 represents the highest. For example, in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, failure to conduct a pre-trip inspection is assigned a weight of 4, failing to secure cargo is assigned a weight of 1, and operating an out-of-service vehicle is assigned a weight of 10.

Ways to Keep Scores Low with Proper Truck Maintenance

There are major benefits to keeping your Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores low. Not only does it help keep your fleet on the road as much as possible, lower scores mean fewer accidents and safer drivers, as well as lower insurance costs.

Here are some tips to keep those scores as low as possible with adequate truck maintenance:

  • Address the importance of thorough daily inspections. Encourage drivers to spend off-duty time inspecting their rigs’ safety features, such as mirrors, headlights and taillights, turn signals, and brake lights.
  • Develop a system of preventive maintenance for compliant, safe, and efficient fleet operations.
  • Develop procedures to ensure that management is notified of vehicle defects by using DVIRs and other communication channels, such as driver call-ins and emails from mechanics.
  • Ensure drivers are qualified to complete thorough and timely DVIRs. Drivers should submit copies of all roadside inspections to carrier management within 24 hours.
  • Develop a disciplinary policy focused on taking corrective action to ensure drivers comply with regulations and policies. This could include, among other things, written warnings, suspensions or work restrictions, monetary penalties, and termination.
  • Don’t tolerate drivers who don’t take vehicle inspections seriously.
  • Offer incentives for clean DVIRs.
  • If there’s an incorrect violation on a driver’s record, appeal it and provide proof.

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