As the owner of a designated commercial vehicle inspection facility, I’ve seen a wide range of customers desired outcomes when having their truck or trailer’s annual or semi-annual vehicle inspection completed. Fortunately, the bulk of our customers are genuinely looking for an inspection that identifies the safety defects that could compromise the operation of their business – or worse, result in a serious accident that could end it.
That said, there are also customers who pay us a visit for the first time, anticipating that paying the 2 hours we charge for the average Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program (CVIP) inspection will “buy” them a sticker. There are certainly shops out there who are willing to turn a blind eye to obvious CVIP fail items in an effort to either win over a customer’s business, or to avoid, the sometimes difficult, conversations that can arise when you have to discuss repairs that are needed to bring a customer’s vehicle into compliance.
There are a number of reasons that “lick and stick” inspection facilities are doing no favors to their customers by turning a blind eye to defects, here are the top 6.
1. Trucking Safety and Liability – Okay, this may be the single most obvious reason a quality inspection can pay back in spades. The fundamental reason for a CVIP inspection is to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle. Regardless of how competent your driver or in-house mechanics may be, having a fresh set of eyes on your unit will undoubtedly identify things that have been missed by your staff. Unfortunately, people become complacent or simply “get used to” equipment that really isn’t operating properly. A quality independent inspection can bring those missed items to your attention – whether they are required CVIP inspection items or simply recommended repairs.
Without a doubt, one of the worst days you can have in trucking is the day you get the call that one of your trucks has been involved in an accident. Aside from making sure no one is injured, this inevitably becomes the time that all sorts of thoughts race through your mind: 1) was my driver at fault? 2) was my driver within his required hours of service? 3) are there any defects with equipment that could deem my Company at-fault? Among others.
An accident involving a commercial vehicle of any serious nature will immediately attract a CVSE inspection of the vehicle to determine if there are any safety defects that could have contributed to the accident. The legal liability trucking companies could face if found to be operating a vehicle with a serious safety defect could be devastating. Although not as litigious as the US, decisions against trucking companies in Canada continue to grow and could certainly compromise the ability for a company to continue. If you are a trucking company owner, knowingly avoiding the need to make safety-related repairs could put you personally at risk for liability.
Having had a comprehensive CVIP inspection is at least one step you can take comfort in reducing some of this risk.
2. Driver Retention – It’s no secret that driver attraction and retention is one of the biggest issues facing the industry today. One great way to increase your driver retention is to demonstrate to them that you care about their safety by maintaining their unit to a high standard.
Professional drivers want to start their trip having confidence that their truck will see them safely through their week and home again. While some companies have begun paying drivers for downtime while waiting for repairs, many drivers are still paid on a productivity basis – meaning they aren’t getting paid while broke down on the side of the road, or at a repair facility. Of course, neither is the company. A quality CVIP inspection, coupled with a comprehensive preventative maintenance program, can avoid unnecessary and costly downtime, and keep your driver’s much happier.
Oh, and not sure if you’ve heard, but professional drivers tend to talk to each other on the road. A company with a reputation for maintaining their equipment to a high standard not only has a better chance of retaining their existing professional drivers, but also of attracting new drivers through positive word-of-mouth.
3. Customer Service - The mechanical safety of your trucking fleet helps to ensure you can meet your customer commitments by minimizing downtime. As with any business, the best opportunity to secure future business with a customer is to complete the current job safely and on-time.
More and more, customers are asking for copies of a Company’s National Safety Code (NSC) profile as proof that the Company is reputable, operates equipment in good repair, and with driver’s who are well-trained and have good driving records. Dealing with a reputable designated inspection facility, coupled with a comprehensive preventative maintenance (PM) program, can help to maintain a great NSC profile rating…maybe even earning you more opportunities with customers who are increasingly valuing safe operations.
Fleet mechanical safety gives you the best opportunity to provide great customer service…and help secure your future for business growth.
4. Avoid High Cost Roadside Breakdowns – The cost of making repairs at the time of your CVIP inspection will be a fraction of the cost of making that repair if a breakdown occurs on the road. Aside from the consequences to your reputation of failing to deliver on time, the risk of an accident, or the risk of losing a dissatisfied driver, it is reasonable to expect roadside costs to be up to 4x (or more) the cost of repairs made at the time of your CVIP.
Even making it to a shop for an unscheduled repair, particularly a shop outside of your local region where you don’t have a relationship, is likely to cost 2x the cost at the time of your CVIP…if, of course, you can get into an unfamiliar shop in a timely manner – an issue that is becoming more and prevalent as truck shops focus on their regular, local customers.
5. The Dreaded Roadside Inspection – Trucking companies dealing with a reputable shop for their CVIP inspections should feel relaxed when approaching that next scale or CVSE roadside inspection. Certainly, it is reasonable that customers who have a comprehensive CVIP inspection done and make the required repairs should have the expectation that their vehicle will comfortably pass an inspection anytime after a recent CVIP inspection. There is no question that drivers operating equipment that has been “certified” by a lick-and-stick inspection facility will have significantly higher stress levels when coming face to face with the CVSE.
6. Protecting Your National Safety Code (NSC) Record – If you think approaching a scale with a truck in questionable repair is stressful, wait until you’re called upon by CVSE to undergo an audit. Maintaining your National Safety Code (your Company record of accidents, violations and inspections) is critically important to avoiding a multi-day visit from a CVSE auditor.
Your record of vehicle inspections is a major component of the NSC profile. Along with violations found at roadside inspections, it is critically important to maintain a good track record with CVSE when it comes to your vehicle inspection history. Cutting corners with designated inspection facilities significantly increases your chances of violations or, worse, out of service inspections at roadside.
The Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program is certainly not all black-and-white. There are some very obvious criteria with many items that make “pass” or “fail” indisputable; however, there are many areas that require inspector discretion (for instance, is that bushing worn to the extend that it is allowing play beyond what is safe??). Partnering with a designated inspection facility that refuses to turn a blind eye to safety defects, but also uses reasonableness when making decisions about passing or failing “discretionary” inspection items, can provide a really good balance in ensuring your equipment is safe, without getting carried away and charging you unnecessarily for repairs.
That said, there are designated inspection facilities in every region who are prepared to “pass” virtually everything that comes through the door. As appealing as that low-cost inspection might appear on the surface, consider the points above and you might agree that the short-term gain simply isn’t worth the long-term pain…and that lick-and-stick facilities really aren’t doing your trucking operation any favors.
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