This post was written by: Channing Puls
Proactively caring for tires and brakes can boost road safety, saving fleets time and ultimately, money.
By Channing Puls, Safety Consultant, The Paladin Group
Speeding, increased front axle loads, and uptime/equipment over-utilization are major indicators of commercial brake and tire-related danger on the open road. Carriers that are proactive about brake and tire-related risks on the road can lower FMCSA BASIC citations, reduce fleet insurance premiums, and decrease operational expenses.
Get a leg up on trouble
Being proactive starts with diligence in brake and tire safety. Potential issues include a leaking air chamber or steer tire blowout. Making sure your tires have proper inflation pressure and consistently observing treadwear can cut tire failure off at the pass.
Additional issues to look out for include:
Malfunctioning anti-lock braking system; out-of-adjustment brakes.
An automatic brake adjustment system on a tractor trailer compensates for wear, but if the automatic adjustment isn’t working, the brake is not as effective. The inability to quickly stop if traffic comes to a sudden halt or someone pulls out in front of you, puts your safety – and the safety of everyone around your vehicle – at risk.
Leaks in the brake system and chafing hoses.
According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, 38.9% of all out-of-service violations are brake-related. A visual pre- and post-check of your vehicle can reveal a lot. Fluid can leak through rubber lining and the back-and-forth friction of a hose can be enough for hose chafing resulting in costly violations.
If you can see a tire is visibly lower than the rest, throw on an air pressure gauge and inflate it to specifications. Notice the tire is getting lower again by the end of the day? Communicate with your team and have someone check the tire before it results in a violation or blow out on the side of the road.
Insider tip: Inspectors can tell if a tire is underinflated. If a tire measures under 60 psi during inspection, the Department of Transportation will mark it as a flat tire violation.
8 pre- and post-trip inspection tips
There is long-term value in being proactive rather than reactive when performing your due diligence to ensure the safety of your fleet. Here are eight best practices to help you do just that.
- Ensure all new drivers are equipped. Every new driver should have a working tire tread depth gauge to check tires during pre- and post-trip inspections and if there’s a problem while on the road. This simple tool can help detect issues, including tire failure and air leaks, which will reduce the chance of any surprises on the road.
- Make a positive ritual out of your pre- and post-trip inspections. Just like you indulge in your cup of coffee in the morning, take pride in the pre-trip inspection. Open the hood and look for fresh oil, coolant, grease, or fuel leaks. Don’t forget lights, reflectors, safety equipment, etc. Then record any defects and repair before operating your vehicle.
- Take a lap. Walk-around inspections mean physically getting out of your vehicle and looking for potential red flags. It’s important to resist making assumptions. Just because your vehicle was in working condition 12 hours ago, doesn’t mean something didn’t happen while your eyes were on the road or off the clock. If you had completed a post-trip inspection the night before and caught that one of your tires had a nail in it, it won’t affect your clock for the next day.
- Make it a requirement. Carriers can require drivers to complete a vehicle inspection report during pre- and post-trip inspections. Also, require drivers to report any potential issues so the maintenance team can address problems immediately. While onboarding new drivers, trainers should provide detailed information and an inspection checklist along with company policies and procedures. Safe driving incentives can help motivate drivers to consistently take additional precautions as well.
- Encourage communication between drivers and carriers. Drivers need to let their carriers know if they encounter problems with their vehicles so service maintenance can tackle the problem as soon as possible. Failure to do so results in potential violations or unsafe vehicles on the road.
- Prep for success. Just as chefs stock their pantries, truck drivers should also have the right tools to troubleshoot situations that may arise on the road. Use the storage compartment under the sleeper, or the tote and/or storage box on the side of the truck, to hold a set of wrenches, hammer, tire gauge, air gauge, extra oil, coolant, and wiper fluid.
- Keep big ticket items on hand. Equipping your vehicles with costlier items, such as an extra tire in case of a blowout, can reduce roadside assistance costs. If you can’t include a spare tire under your trailer, think about adding a tire carrier behind the tractor cab.
- Identify commercial trucking roadside assistance services. Just as people can contract with a roadside assistance service in case of an emergency, there are commercial trucking roadside assistance services that carriers can contract with across the U.S. It’s wise to establish a relationship with a tire company or service that stocks preferred tires in case of an emergency. Make sure to identify these services in every region that your truckers drive through.
Contact The Paladin Group for more information about promoting safe driving.