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How Cowboy State Trucking used Zonar's EVIR to improve safety

April 22, 2024
With safety as one of fleets' chief concerns, fleet management platforms and digitized inspections such as Zonar's EVIR can help fleets improve their safety and maintenance practices.

America’s truck drivers go above and beyond to keep the economy running, but the increased pressure to meet tight delivery goals can tempt drivers to circumvent safety procedures to get on the road faster. Shortcuts on safety, maintenance, and pre- and post-trip inspections increase risk exposure for everyone on the road. Rather than save time, cutting corners can add up to costly CSA violations, reputational damage, and higher insurance premiums.

FMCSA reported more than 5.1 million inspection violations last year, and during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck, just under 20% of the vehicles inspected in 2023 were removed from the roadway with out-of-service violations.

Instead, carriers must help maximize drivers’ time and adjust safety procedures for today’s reality.

An opportunity to outfit drivers for safety

Making the roads safer means holding motor carriers and drivers accountable for their role in preventing collisions. The challenge is selecting technology and tools that work for your fleet. Increasingly, fleets are turning to in-cab tablets to support drivers, streamline daily tasks, and stay on schedule.

Cowboy State Trucking, a Colorado fleet responsible for transporting commodities over four million miles annually throughout the Rocky Mountain region, recently adopted Zonar’s EVIR system to reinforce its safety culture. The fleet also uses Zonar's Ground Traffic Control for reporting and data collection, and Zonar's V4 Telematics Control Unit for location tracking and vehicle health updates. With its smart fleet management technology digitized inspection records and work orders, the fleet streamlined maintenance reporting processes, and helped reset the company’s pre-trip inspection processes and expectations.

In the Rocky Mountain region, where heavy-duty drivers face challenging terrain, pre-trip inspections can make the difference between arriving on time or not at all. Cowboy State Trucking’s procedure requires drivers and operators to physically scan tags when they inspect components on vehicles and equipment, which ensures inspections are performed correctly and the results are captured accurately.

With a fleet of 36 trucks, 120 trailers, and a team of 30 full-time drivers and owner-operators, these cutting-edge technologies help Cowboy State Trucking eliminate the risk of lost paperwork and skipped inspections.

Deon Bunker, COO of Cowboy State Trucking, said his drivers take pride in their work, and although some were skeptical about the change, they saw that shorter inspections and fewer mistakes created more time to do the rest of their job.

“By verifying that a driver has visited each zone, we’re able to hold drivers accountable,” he said. “Now inspections are getting done correctly and in a timely manner, instead of getting lost—and management has visibility almost in real time.”

Compliance and safety go hand-in-hand

Cowboy State Trucking found that its smart fleet management technology could digitize and streamline inspections and audits, improve fleet health and long-term safety, and, ultimately, reduce CSA scores.

High CSA scores can trigger warning letters from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, result in more frequent inspections, and cause damage to a carrier’s reputation. Even more, these scores are a crucial metric that insurance carriers use to assess the safety performance of motor carriers and drivers. The lower the score, the lower a fleet’s insurance premiums.

Read more: How to rightsize your fleet maintenance management system

With digital and electronic verified inspections, Cowboy State Trucking reduced its CSA scores in just a few months from 76 to 12 by proactively identifying and addressing vehicle and asset issues before they escalated into critical concerns.

This improved the fleet’s overall operational efficiency and contributed to increased uptime, which reinforced the reliability of the fleet’s vehicles and assets.

And, when Cowboy State Trucking improved its score, it gained a competitive advantage in contract negotiations and risk management, and it saw savings on insurance costs.

“That low CSA score really helps us keep insurance costs in check,” Bunker said. “Not to mention that if the score gets too high, your operation can be shut down.

Digitized inspection reports and maintenance

Additionally, Cowboy State Trucking incorporated its inspection technology with its maintenance platform. By uploading inspection results directly into the system, the team could prioritize defects, reduce paperwork, and ensure work orders are fulfilled. This replaced multiple manual processes—finding defects, creating maintenance work orders, and depositing the work order—which eliminated the risk of requests slipping through the cracks.

The time between a driver entering a defect into Cowboy State Trucking’s EVIR and a mechanic reviewing the report is now only 12 minutes. With faster reporting, faster prioritization, and faster resolution, Cowboy State Trucking delivers more uptime to its entire team.

A long-term vision for safety

Fleets gain an advantage by empowering drivers with the tools to maximize time and safety. These technologies automatically capture, store, and seamlessly integrate inspection data into existing maintenance software systems. When equipped with better insights, fleets and drivers can prevent unplanned downtime, and increased uptime means increased revenue.

With International Roadcheck coming up May 14-16 and CVSA’s recently updated OOS violation standards, pre- and post-trip inspections, and the technology to help them succeed, are more important than ever. With digitized inspections on their side, truck drivers and fleet owners have an opportunity to improve their CSA profiles, reduce risks of collisions and inspection violations, and create a safer and more efficient operation.

About the Author

Fred Fakkema | Vice President of Safety and Compliance, Zonar

Fred Fakkema joined Zonar after 25 years with the Washington State Patrol (WSP). During his time with the WSP, he commanded the WSP Academy, Government and Relations Division, as well as the Commercial Vehicle Division.

Fred is the Past President for the FBI National Academy Associates— Washington Chapter. In 2021, Fred was named a Gold Globee winner in the Executive of the Year, automotive, transportation, storage and logistics category of the 6th Annual 2021 American Best in Business Awards. And he's the Chair of the 2023 ATA Law Enforcement Advisory Board.

He’s also a member of the:

• American Trucking Association (ATA) Safety Policy Committee

• American Trucking Association (ATA) Technology and Engineering Policy Committee

• Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) Core Content Committee

• Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) Government Relations Committee

• Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) Equipment & Technology Advisory Council

• American Bus Association (ABA) School Bus Council

Fred Fakkema earned his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Washington.    

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