Making the Most of Your Roadside Inspection Data

Your effort to dig deep into your roadside inspection data has enormous payoffs. Here's how it's done.

Published On: 04/15/2022
Truck driver at roadside inspection
J. J. Keller Editor Rick Malchow

Written by:

Rick Malchow

Industry Business Advisor — J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

Your effort to dig deep into your roadside inspection data has enormous payoffs. That’s because the FMCSA, and others, use that data to make determinations about your level of safety. Roadside inspections – good and bad – are used to determine your Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores. The higher (worse) your score, the greater likelihood of more inspections, audits, and compliance reviews.

The best way to avoid poor CSA scores? Have clean roadside inspections, defined as inspections without any violations of the safety regulations. Clean inspections reduce CSA scores — yours and your driver's. But don’t stop there.

Mine Your Data

Mining your data provides a wealth of benefits. No matter the depth of your data dive, the Safety Measurement System is updated monthly. Therefore, a best practice is to review the data monthly and no less than quarterly. However, the deeper the dive, the more actionable the data becomes.

Here are four review types you can conduct:

  1. Surface Review — A review of all seven BASIC measures and scores.
  2. Medium Review — A review of all seven BASICs’ measure trends:
    1. Over a six-month period
    2. Over six quarters – or over 1 ½ years
    3. Semi-annually – or over 2 ½ years
  3. Deep Review — Review the specific violations received in each BASIC and identify repeat violations. These are the areas that need to be addressed across the organization.
  4. Very Deep Review — Use weighted averages to consider the violation occurrence rate, severity weight, and how often the vehicle or driver is placed out of service. To make the data more actionable, sort and score the data by:
    1. Terminal or work location
    2. Driver manager or dispatcher
    3. Maintenance shop
    4. Driver

Download our newest whitepaper, DOT Roadside Inspections Data – A Methodology to Drive Improvement, for a new formula to help you uncover your most critical issues.

Additional Ways to Use Your RSI Data

CSA scores don't "happen" to you. They’re simply a reflection of how safely you’re operating. By identifying the violations that have the most significant negative impact on your CSA scores, you can quickly impact your scores and the resulting risk profile. But there is more you can do.

  • Trend your data monthly. Trending data is not a "one and done" event. The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) is called a cycle for a reason — it never ends.
  • Use data to discover the “who” behind violations. Violations tend to follow the 80/20 rule. In this sense, 80% of the violations are likely caused by 20% of your operators.
  • Review data for accuracy. Inspectors are human. They don’t always get it right. The FMCSA doesn’t want incorrect data in the system any more than you and your driver do. The DataQs online tool allows drivers and carriers to have data corrected or removed from their respective records.
  • Require good pre- and post-trip inspections. The vast majority of roadside inspection violations are vehicle-related. Most of these violations can be identified through simple vehicle inspections.

Make It Count

The FMCSA doesn't need to get inside your vehicles and sit with drivers to see how safely you operate. Instead, they simply need enough inspection data points to “see” your safety culture.

When they give you and your drivers “clean inspections”, you may also reap dividends with other industry stakeholders, like:

  • Insurance companies, which use the data to assess risk.
  • Brokers, who use the data to vet carriers.
  • Shippers that are interested in using safe carriers to reduce their risk exposure.
  • Good drivers who want to work for good and safe carriers.

If all the above are interested in your data, you should be too. Your data is publicly available. So, give them something good to talk about.

Using a fleet management system, like J. J. Keller® Encompass, allows you to track all your roadside inspections and CSA data, plus driver and vehicle records. Alerts for expired credentials, tags, and permits help you eliminate unnecessary violations. Call 855.693.5338 to talk with a compliance specialist today to learn more about the Encompass 60-day free trial.

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The J. J. Keller Encompass Fleet Management System is the only fleet management platform that provides guidance backed by nearly 70 years of trusted DOT compliance expertise. Add connected technology like ELogs, dash cams, and vehicle tracking devices whenever you're ready.

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