Of course, one of the most talked about benefits of LEDs is the potential for decreasing the chances of a CSA violation. Lighting is, quite literally, the most visible aspect of the truck as it rolls down the highway. If there’s a lighting issue, the tractor is practically screaming to be pulled over. Often times, that CSA stop doesn’t end with the lights.
“Trucks get pulled over for a lighting violation and then they do a full CSA inspection and find other things,” says Tim Gilbert, corporate director of heavy-duty sales with Peterson Manufacturing. “There’s not much else they can see rolling down the highway or across a scale other than a light being out to give them a reason to pull you over and do a check. It’s a visual. Can’t check brakes or hours-of-service (HOS) rolling down the highway.”
Brad Van Riper, Truck-Lite senior vice president and chief technology officer, recounts the top 20 CSA violations for 2013; nearly 25% of all violations were related to lighting. The list of violations included vehicles not having the required lamps, absent or defective projected/reflective devices, stop lamp violations and inoperative headlights and taillights. Given LED’s 11 years of steady burning life, it’s no wonder that fleet managers are seeing an improvement performance.
There’s more than simply spec’ing the proper LED and harness system to ensure that your lights stay lit. While LEDs are more protected against shock and vibration, physical damage is still a problem, particularly on trailers. One recommendation is to work with the OEM to get some sort of protection for the lamp, either by burying a marker light into the upper channel so that the extrusion hits, for example, a tree branch first and not the lamp. Focusing on things that could go wrong and working on designing and integrating the lighting into the vehicle is critical to long service.
For fleet managers who are still working with older equipment outfitted with incandescent lighting, John Grote, Grote Industries vice president of sales and marketing, even recommends that when the truck comes in and one incandescent light is out, it’s best to replace all the incandescent bulbs right then, even if they are still functional.
“Take our own incandescent, for example. Let’s say you have a 2,000-trailer fleet with 100% incandescent—lights last about three-and-a-half years; our best ones do. That’s six stop tail turns going out a day. That means you have a chance for 2,000 violations throughout the year,” Grote figures. “Every time you have something like that, the trailer is pulled over for a light violation and then they go through the CSA check to find out that something else is wrong. All of a sudden you have a $400 to $500 problem.”
The response to the recommendation is somewhat mixed. There are those who refuse to replace a working lamp—that’s just normal human inclination. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the fleet management world, that’s the opposite of preventative maintenance. The cost of a replacement lamp pales in comparison to the $75-per-hour maintenance cost for that vehicle, three times, just for taillights.