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Tires & CSA: An update


Tires play a major role when it comes to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) program. The two fleet Safety Management System (SMS) for CSA categories are 1) vehicle maintenance and 2) hazardous material compliance. Tires fall under the vehicle maintenance category.

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Violations associated with tires receive either a three or eight point penalty. Since tires fall under the vehicle maintenance category, there is an additional point penalty assessed on anything in this maintenance category. So what is considered an eight point penalty?

  • Flat tire;
  • Fabric exposed;
  • Belt material exposed;
  • Tread or sidewall separation;
  • Audible air leak;
  • Cut exposing ply and/or belt material;
  • Tread depth less than 4/32 in. for steer tires; and
  • Tread depth less than 2/32 in. for drive, trailer, and dolly tires.

The three point tire penalties include:

  • Tire exceeding weight rating listed on tire sidewall;
  • Weight carried exceeds tire load limit; and
  • Tire underinflated.

When a vehicle is inspected either at a weigh station or pulled over by the highway patrol and the officer finds an eight point tire violation, that vehicle is considered out of service. A good example is a flat tire. By definition of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), a flat tire is a tire that has a pressure less than 50% of the maximum pressure molded onto the tire sidewall. For a low profile 295/75R22.5 LR G, the maximum load when run as a dual configuration is 5675 lbs. at 120 PSI. Therefore, if the measured tire pressure is 60 PSI or lower, the tire is considered flat and the vehicle is put out of service. You are not allowed to even drive to the next truck stop to get the tire repaired and aired back up. An expensive roadside service call would be required to get the tire repaired. An average roadside service call is over two hours that can lead to additional time penalties associated with just-in-time delivery loads.


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