Kansas Trooper Fall 2014 - page 26

Over the years, I’ve heard motor carrier enforcement
personnel state numerous times, “If you don’t find a
violation the first time around, keep looking,” “I can’t have
a Level I with no violations,” or “If you don’t have at least
two or three violations per inspection, you’re not doing
your job,” and so on. I’d like to state that each one of these
statements is incorrect and inspectors should not be afraid
of a “Zero Violation Inspection”. Now, I’m not saying that
an inspector with one violation in 50 inspections doesn’t
possibly have training or other administrative issues
that should be dealt with accordingly, but the occasional
inspection with no violations, is not a bad thing. In fact
it’s the ultimate goal of commercial vehicle safety-100%
compliance.
If you really want to get down to the basics, the
ultimate goal of industry, regulators, and enforcement
consist of four zeroes: zero fatality crashes, zero injury
crashes, zero non-injury crashes, and zero violations. I
know we won’t reach these goals during my career, but I
have seen a substantial reduction in all types of crashes,
and even critical inspection violations, since I started
inspecting commercial vehicles in 1993. CVSA even has
a reward program for commercial vehicles inspected that
have no Critical Inspection Item Violations. That program
provides CVSAdecals, with the purpose to assist inspectors
on which vehicles should or should not be selected for
inspection. If CVSA chooses to reward vehicles with
clean and/or no Critical Inspection Item Violations, why
can’t some inspectors do the same and list, “No violations
detected” instead of stretching to list something to
avoid that “zero violation inspection?” If an inspector’s
supervisor is evaluating them based on ”violations per
inspection,” that in itself, can push inspectors to reach for
violations. In fact, evaluations based on “violations per
inspection” could be looked at in the same light as a quota
for citations issued.
In this day and age of DataQs, inspectors need to be
more articulate and sure of a violation than ever before.
No longer should an inspector think, “When in doubt, pen
By Rex C. Railsback
Lieutenant, K-80
is not Taboo
it out,” but instead should think, “When in doubt, punt,” or
“The tie goes to the runner.” There is nothing wrong with
calling other inspectors for guidance either. Even calling
instructors you’ve had in the past can help if you’re in
doubt. If an inspector can’t get guidance to help avoid the
doubt, then let it go - do the research and get the violation
next time. Just eliminating the, “When in doubt, pen it
out” or the mindset of always having to have an inspection
with violations, could reduce the total number of DataQs
a state has to investigate. As a long time instructor, I’ve
taken numerous calls and e-mails over the years to help
confirm if something was or was not a violation, and I
know other instructors have done the same. There is no
shame in asking if you’re not sure. Just remember the only
dumb questions, are the ones not asked. Citing a violation
on an inspection that you’re not sure of would be the same
as citing someone for speeding when you weren’t sure you
had the correct vehicle.
Over the 20 plus years I’ve been inspecting
commercial vehicles, I’ve even made note of possible
violations, without listing them on the inspection report,
and researched said possible violation(s) later. After I
found the answer, I called the carrier and advised them of
my finding on what I had questioned, and whether it was a
violation. If this research was completed after the vehicle
was released, but before the inspection was uploaded,
I’ve even added “notes” to the inspection report about my
findings. No matter how you notify a carrier of what your
findings were, you’re still helping the motor carrier obtain
compliance. Again, isn’t that our ultimate goal?
So after all of the above, I hope inspectors continue
to do the outstanding job of helping to reduce crashes, the
operation of unsafe commercial motor vehicles, and non-
compliant motor carriers. By always remembering that
occasionally you might run across a commercial vehicle
without any violations you should not be afraid to note
it as such. Just remember that “Zero is not Taboo” and
in fact is the ultimate goal of all of us in the commercial
vehicle field.
26
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Kansas Trooper
Fall 2014
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