In 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the nation, those paying attention in the fleet industry noticed an interesting spike: The number of offsite safety audits conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) more than quadrupled.
This led to many more citations for fleets as regulators from the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted 5,551 safety audits, compared to just 1,374 in 2019. A recent CVSA International Roadcheck also resulted in thousands of citations, with Hours of Service (HOS) violations being one of the top reasons why inspectors took drivers off the road.
The advanced, innovative and connected telematics systems offered through EnVue can help fleets better manage under this increased level of scrutiny by government regulators, including a higher quality of Electronic Logging Device (ELD).
“We speak with prospective customers often who are dissatisfied or concerned with their current ELD provider. Issues include spotty or poor customer service; equipment that doesn’t function reliably; Hours of Service data with gaps and errors,” said John Gaither, Director of Sales of EnVue Telematics. “Knowing that FMCSA is becoming more active and practiced with off-site compliance reviews increases the risks associated with a problematic ELD implementation.”
Not Likely to Change
The increased number of offsite safety audits by the FMCSA happened because of new rules put into place during the coronavirus pandemic that allowed for remote reviews via email or phone.
However, the big increase in offsite reviews is unlikely to fall back to pre-pandemic levels, according to industry experts. Lesley Sachs, a partner at the transportation-focused law firm Taylor & Associates, told Commercial Carrier Journal that even when the pandemic is brought under control, the offsite compliance review trend is likely to continue.
“FMCSA was putting this infrastructure in place and testing [offsite audits] even before the COVID pandemic,” she said. “If the tool is working, they’ll continue to use it beyond COVID.”
Inspectors use CSA scores to target motor carriers for safety audits. This is why fleets need to stay vigilant about the number of violations they receive. Sachs noted that when violations occur, carriers should “put in corrective actions to stop it from becoming a trend, because those violations will draw attention if you’re selected for an audit.”
She used the example of speeding violations, saying that even just a few of them should prompt fleet managers to take preventative measures to stop it from becoming a trend.
Connected Solutions Can Help
Areas such as speeding, distracted driving and other bad driving habits that can lead to violations are exactly where telematics can help fleet managers improve performance.
Connected devices can gather and send data on vehicle and driver performance, for example. Automated systems can help coach drivers in real-time. All these services help fleets avoid violations from government inspectors.
The impact of telematics is multiplied when fleets work with companies with years of experience in telematics and a commitment to after-sale customer service. Gaither said the professional team at EnVue has the expertise to help fleet managers leverage the advantages telematics offers into gains in effectiveness, efficiency and profitability. “EnVue Telematics consultants are knowledgeable as to skilled ELD rollouts and maintenance,” Gaither said. “If you have concerns and a general feeling of discomfort about your ELD implementation, give us a call.”