One of the first HNI University events this year was a hands-on workshop called "Does Your Vehicle Maintenance Program Measure Up?" The workshop was hosted by John Seidl, a former FMCSA inspector.
John gave attendees the inside scoop on safety audits and how motor carriers can improve their FMCSA compliance and vehicle maintenance programs. The final part of the workshop included a Level 2 inspection of an actual tractor-trailer, with John's commentary on what makes a Level 2 different from a Level 1. It was a chance for mechanics, safety coordinators, and trucking operations pros to grill an ex-roadside inspector on all the questions they've ever wanted an answer to — but were afraid to ask!
Because the size of the classroom limited the number of workshop attendees, we've put together this two-minute video with the top four takeaways from the session. HNI's Don Jerrell, our in-house transportation consultant, shared the workshop lessons that he found most interesting:
1.) Compliance and safety aren't necessarily the same thing. FMCSA obviously is all about safety, but every motor carrier knows that some rules have little or no impact on safety. There's stuff we must do, because of the compliance side of the world, and there's stuff we should do, because of the safety side of the world.
2.) Some compliance rules can shut you down, while others will get you a fine. This is related to the No. 1 lesson.
3.) Nothing beats a hands-on demo. The walk-around, where John took the attendees around the tractor-trailer and talked through a Level 2 inspection, brought out a lot of great questions. John explained the inspection process and pointed out things on the truck that some inspectors might ding you for.
4.) Different inspectors can have different interpretations of the rules. Inspector X might follow the regs to the letter and write up every minor infraction. But Inspector Y might explain how to fix a minor infraction and let the driver go with a warning — this time. The whims of different inspectors make it extremely important to know all the rules inside and out.
If you had the chance to quiz the FMCSA inspector without consequences, what would you ask? Please sound off in comments! We'll consider questions for future blog posts!