Truck Fleets Face Road With More Accountability & Paperwork

June 1, 2011

The new federal Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) initiative means truck fleet operators will have a bumpy road ahead with more accountability and paperwork.  While it means more work for drivers and motor carriers, it should also drive safer fleet operations, said Bert Mayo, vice president of fleet risk control for Lockton Companies.  Mayo, a leading fleet risk control expert, made the comments in a presentation during the recent Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Las Vegas.

“This is an absolutely needed and important step for the improved safety and well being of the motoring public and our professional drivers,” said Mayo.  “But it will take time and energy to achieve.”  CSA is a major initiative from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for commercial truck and bus fleets and will have a major impact on the vendors that service the heavy duty trucking industry.

The CSA program is designed to improve the effectiveness of the Agency’s compliance and enforcement programs.  However, the ultimate goal is to achieve a greater reduction in large truck and bus crashes, injuries, and fatalities. It is being implemented to better use FMCSA resources to identify drivers and motor carriersthat pose safety problems, address those problems as soonas they become apparent, and attempt to change unsafe behavior. The program was tested in nine states during the past 18 months.
Nearly all CSA information is public. Anyone with a computer, such as potential customers, competitors, plaintiff attorneys, insurance underwriters, and the general public will be able to access the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), as defined by CSA:

• Unsafe driving
• Fatigued driving
• Driver fitness
• Drugs and alcohol
• Vehicle maintenance
• Proper loading/cargo issues
• Crash indicator (not viewable)

“All of the BASICs categories are equally important for determining a fleet’s overall safety profile, Mayo added. “When it comes to vehicle maintenance, for example, fleet maintenance departments and maintenance service vendors will be required to deliver a higher level of service and documentation. But if analysis of implementation from the test states is any indication, fleets that are subjected to the CSA process are showing safety improvements, and they are better at identifying and correcting behaviors that lead to accidents. That means potentially safer roads and healthier drivers.” Mayo’s full presentation can be found at: http://www.hdaw.org/images/2011/education/bert_mayo.pdf


New Research Identifies SafetyCompliance Alternatives

In a recently released study, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) articulates strategies for improving the trucking industry’s safety record through “alternative compliance.”

The report proposes innovative safety tools and approaches including onboard safety technologies, employer notification systems and new drug testing methods as surrogates for existing regulatory compliance activities. The genesis of the report derives from government data, which suggests that many safety benefits are beginning to plateau.

To determine the efficacy of existing compliance, the research evaluated carrier safety before and after compliance reviews.  Among the most significant findings: while crash rates were notably lower following compliance reviews for small fleets, this benefit diminished and even disappeared as fleet size increased.

ATRI’s study then outlines a framework for a pilot test of alternative compliance activities that are validated within the report as having the most impact.

Maverick Transportation has tested, and benefited from, many of these alternative compliance tools.  This report is the first of its kind to package the ROIs into a toolbox of proven solutions.  DOT certification of an ‘alt compliance’ program can help our industry move from incremental to exponential safety improvements,” said Steve Williams, Maverick USA CEO and chairman of the ATRI Board.
A copy of this report is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org.

Editor’s Note: ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role inmaintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.