January 10, 2018

Lowering ISS Scores is a Team Effort

by: prepassnow

By: Steve Vaughn, National Director of Field Operations, HELP Inc.

An Inspection Selection System (ISS) score is a key factor in determining which trucks will be pulled in by enforcement for inspections. Weigh station bypass decisions are frequently based on ISS scores and other credential information. Because everyone is looking for ways to operate more efficiently and save time, fleet owners and managers often ask me what specific actions they can take to lower their carrier ISS score. My answer is to tell them there might be a better way to approach the issue. Instead of focusing on direct ways to lower their ISS score, they should step back and see the bigger picture: improving overall fleet safety by involving the entire team.

When fleets make safety a key part of their operation, their ISS scores are likely to be lower. And as you may recall from my previous blog, when it comes to ISS scores, the lower the better, and that should occur naturally when safety is a priority.

The first step to lowering ISS scores is to recognize it is a fleet-wide effort. While some tend to focus on drivers and driver behavior when it comes to the safety equation, the reality is that everyone in the organization plays a role including management, technicians and dispatchers.

Using dispatchers as an example, when they are on board with improving fleet safety and by extension lowering ISS scores, they will review things like:

  • Time requirements for the driver to get from Point A to Point B. As an alternative, dispatchers should be asking themselves if they are putting drivers at risk by not allowing them enough time. Doing so risks the occurrence of an Hours of Service violation;
  • Allowing sufficient time for loading;
  • Allowing sufficient time for unloading.

Technicians aligned with the corporate safety goals will perform thorough inspections every time and will not rush the process. They will pay extra attention to safety-related components to ensure trucks do not leave the yard unless they are in safe operating condition.

 Another path to lowering ISS scores is to understand which violations have the most impact on the severity weighting and place extra emphasis accordingly. Unsafe driving, Hours of Service compliance and the crash indicator are usually at the top of the list. However, in different areas of the country, enforcement officials often place emphasis on different things dependent upon terrain and specific high-crash related locations and the driving habits and types of violations occurring.Management needs to be proactive when a potential problem is discovered. Given the driver shortage, it may be tempting to overlook bad driving habits because you can’t afford to lose any drivers. However, failure to speak with the driver or initiate remedial training puts you at a greater risk of affecting your ISS score due to the actions of that driver.

Finally, your local enforcement officials can be valuable resources in helping you improve your ISS score. Some agencies provide training for carriers upon request and can assist you in understanding what they look for during an inspection. Meet with them to discuss the actions they think you can implement to improve, or even arrange for inspections of your trucks. The more good inspections you have the more likely you are to have a lower ISS score. However, recognize that in those instances when you request an inspection, and they agree to conduct one, it could reveal a serious violation or other issue.

Remember that safety is not a one-person responsibility. While the popular adage is that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole team to effectively lower an ISS score.

**This article was originally published by Fleet Owner and can be viewed here.