CSA - Vehicle Maintenance BASIC is about what's on the vehicle and what shape it's in
This BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) in the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) program is entirely about the vehicle. The two areas considered in this BASIC are how the vehicle is equipped (does it have the required parts and accessories) and what shape it is in. What is being tracked, measured, and evaluated is compliance with the vehicle regulations and the condition of the vehicle.
What goes into the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC?
The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC calculates driver and carrier performance using violations related to the parts and accessories on the vehicle and the condition of the vehicle noted on roadside inspection reports. This has nothing to do with receiving a "citation" or "ticket." Citations are a totally different matter and involve someone paying a fine for the violation.
To sum this up, if a violation of the vehicle regulations is noted on a roadside inspection report, the violation will be entered into the carrier's Vehicle Maintenance BASIC in the CSA 2010 data system. If the violation is one that the driver could have prevented, the driver will have the violation placed into his or her personal data as well (there are a handful of technical and vehicle specification violations that drivers are not held responsible for in this BASIC).
Examples of violations that will be placed in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC include: Operating a vehicle that has been placed out of service, lights and/or reflectors not working or obscured, any brake violation (condition, adjustment, etc.), steering or suspension defects, tire, wheel, or rim defects, and using a vehicle that has not been periodically (annually) inspected.
Tracking and measuring the Vehicle BASIC violations
Whenever a violation related to the vehicle's equipment or condition is placed into the system, the violation is "valued" in the driver and carrier Safety Measurement Systems (SMS) using severity and time weighting. The severity weighting is based on the violation's relationship to crash causation (jumping an out-of-service order is a 10, which is the maximum, while the vehicle having a cracked windshield has a severity of 1, the minimum). If the violation led to the vehicle being placed out of service, the severity weight is increased by two.
The high severity violations in this BASIC include operating a vehicle that has been placed out of service, lights and/or reflectors obscured, inoperative headlight, tail light, brake light, or turn signal, steering or suspension defects, and tire defects.
Time weighting involves placing more value on violations that have happened recently. All violations remain in the carrier's data for 24 months (36 months for drivers), but a violation's "value" reduces over time due to the time weighting system. Events that occurred in the last six months are given a time weight of 3, events that took place between 6 and 12 months ago are given a time weight of 2, and anything that happened over a year ago is given a time weight of 1 (driver time weighting is slightly different).
To determine the "value" of a violation, the total severity weighting for the violation (the predetermined severity weight of the violation plus two if the driver was placed out of service) is multiplied by the time weighting to determine the "value" of the violation in the SMS.
If a carrier has more than five vehicle inspections or one that notes a violation of the vehicle equipment or condition regulations, the value for all violations is totaled, and then the total is divided by the "time weighted relevant inspections." The "time weighted relevant inspections" are the vehicle inspections the carrier has undergone (good and bad) that have been "time weighted" using the same time weighting discussed above.
This "normalizing" process generates a BASIC Measure (violation value per inspection) that allows all carriers to be compared to each other.
Once a carrier's BASIC Measure has been determined, the carrier is then compared to other carriers in its "Peer Group." The Peer Groups are based on the total number of driver inspections. For instance, carriers with 5 to 10 vehicle inspections are compared to all other carriers with 5 to 10 vehicle inspections. Carriers are then "Percentile Ranked" inside their Peer Group based on their BASIC Measure. The carrier with the lowest BASIC Measure in the Peer Group is ranked at 0, while the carrier with the highest BASIC Measure is ranked at 100. All other carriers in the Peer Group fit in between based on their BASIC Measure. This percentile ranking is the carrier's actual "BASIC Score."
If a carrier's BASIC Score is above a predetermined threshold, an intervention will be triggered. Interventions range from a warning letter to a full Compliance Review. The basic principle is the worse the carrier's score, the more severe the intervention.
Drivers' Vehicle Maintenance BASIC Measures are determined by the same process. First, all violation values that have been assigned to the driver in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC are totaled and then divided by the "time weighted relevant inspections."
The BASIC Measures are then percentile ranked in Peer Groups based on the number of driver inspections the driver has undergone. Within each Peer Group, drivers are assigned percentile rankings from 0 (representing the lowest BASIC Measure) to 100 (representing the highest BASIC Measure). This Percentile Ranking is the driver's BASIC Score. Two points about the driver's BASIC Measures and Scores: First, these are going to be confidential; no one will be able to view them but FMCSA officials and investigators, and second, the driver interventions are not directly based on the driver's score. Drivers found with high scores during other enforcement activity (such as during an audit) will be subject to interventions.
How do I keep this BASIC Score low?
The simple answer is to make sure your vehicles are well maintained by a competent maintenance department (or maintenance person or for-hire shop in a smaller operation), and the drivers are doing vehicle inspections and addressing problems they find.
Whoever is doing the maintenance must have qualified people inspecting the vehicles at regular intervals and making sound decisions related to on-road repairs, maintenance scheduling, and developing preventive maintenance checklists.
All driver and maintenance inspections, maintenance work, and repairs should be documented to track problems that are regularly developing with the equipment. This allows for adjustments in the maintenance scheduling or maintenance checklist items. It can also be used to locate a driver that is not taking care of an assigned unit (the vehicle is being brought in with "nothing wrong" as far as the driver is concerned, but the technician is constantly finding major problems).
Finally, the maintenance department should review and track every roadside violation and repair request. Watching these two data sets can indicate a problem with the maintenance program or a problem with specific equipment.
As far as the drivers go, the company must inform the drivers what inspections are required (a regimen of a complete pre-trip at the beginning of the day, walk-around inspection every time the vehicle is parked, and a post-trip at the end of the day is the best practice). Next, the drivers must be doing the required inspections (this is where comparing what maintenance is finding compared to what the driver is reporting can be helpful). Finally, the drivers must be communicating problems to the maintenance department whether by phone (if on the road) or on paper at the end of the day.
Drivers need to know what to check on the vehicle and how to spot defects, who to call when there is a problem, and how and when to submit documentation. This means driver training, both initially and ongoing.
If either party (whoever is doing the maintenance and the drivers) is not doing their job, you can expect this BASIC to break down in a hurry!