by | Automobile, Laws & Regulations, Vehicles & Equipment |

Compliance, Safety and Accountability – or, “CSA 2010”.  When this regulation first rolled out to the trucking world (albeit in 2011), I found many of my trucking clients did not understand it, nor were hurrying to grasp its importance.  Everyone knew about and understood the safestats, which was the previous way the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration kept track of industry safety (found at www.safersys.org), but this was a whole new ball game.  The goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to increase compliance and safety, and to make companies and drivers accountable.  Hence, the introduction of CSA.

We could probably all say that we’ve heard of a topic in passing, but don’t know the details…until that need to know is staring at us.  How many times have you heard about trips to a destination, but you only pay attention when you are looking into going there yourself?  I have found this to be true in my work world.  For example, several of my trucking accounts knew CSA 2010 existed, but they did not actively become engaged until a mountain of meaningful data became available to make their roadside safety inspection results measurable, and at times problematic.  I found that some companies, including those which have modern fleets and are well run, were nearly panicking when they found that a score was rising.  Drivers themselves are also rated under CSA.  Even if a driver isn’t motivated to preserve or enhance his company’s reputation, the fact that he is individually rated will generally hold his interest.

In a nutshell, CSA incorporates four primary components to increase trucker compliance and safety:

  • Data Collection:  This occurs through truck inspections at roadside checks, accident scenes, when pulled over for a violation or through an investigation.
  • Data Measurement (called Safety Measurement Scores, or SMSs):  This component sets forth shortcomings, regardless of whether or not they result in an Out of Service order, and fall into one of the following categories, referred to as the seven BASICS:  Unsafe Driving; Hours of Service; Driver Fitness; Controlled Substances/Alcohol; Vehicle Maintenance; Hazardous Materials Compliance, and; Crash Indicator.  There are severity and recency ratings assigned to each violation.
  • Data Evaluation:  In each of the above BASICS, carriers’ results are compared to those of similar-sized companies.  The results are rated on a percentile basis, and each of the categories has an action threshold.  Note that high scores can increase the chance of a Level One (full) inspection when a driver travels through a roadside inspection.
  • Intervention, if necessary:  If a company exceeds one or more thresholds, intervention can take place.  This can involve a formal notification of their poor data results, a more detailed investigation with corrective action, or even an order to cease operation.

Regardless of the safety category, whether it is hazard communication, safe handling of flammable liquids or DOT compliance, the first step is to understand the regulation and to keep its intent in mind.  You can learn about CSA by visiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, or through various publications.  Your Acadia loss controlrepresentative can also provide you with detailed videos to describe the program and its’ components to you.  It is important that everyone affected -drivers, mechanics and management -be up to speed on the details of CSA.

A company should also know its SMS scores.  You can find this by accessing this website:  http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS/Data/Search.aspx.  Once on the site, you can click on each BASIC and drill further down to see what your company’s violation trends have been.  You can also contest mistakes.  If you don’t know where the problems lie, you can’t repair them.  In addition, be aware that enforcement agencies are monitoring these score to decide who gets a full inspection.  Insurance companies review them as well, as do customers who want to be sure their freight is traveling securely and without delay, and competitors, if only for bragging rights.

I work regularly with one company that I believe is well run, with a management which is committed to safety, competent driver selection and equipment maintenance.  We were both surprised when its mechanical rating had increased.  Together, we evaluated the violations and realized that more than half of the violations stemmed from one truck, with likely the same driver each time.  It was also apparent that most of the violations could have been identified during a routine Vehicle Condition Report.  This company chose to have all drivers come to a meeting where they viewed a CSA video, and had a consultant walk them through a thorough pre-trip inspection.

Everyone should care about highway safety, but, it is hard to have one set of regulations easily apply to everyone.  My personal observation is that some trucking operations, like those who routinely drive in difficult, heavy or dirty conditions, seem to have higher BASIC scores.  However, since change is the only constant, the new legislation is taking its best shot at covering the industry as a whole.  I encourage you to champion heightened awareness of CSA and DOT requirements at your company, and to continue working hard to keep your SMS at a level you can take pride in.  How do you keep your company personnel up to date on evolving CSA and DOT requirements?

Acadia is pleased to share this material with its customers.  Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services.  This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.  Distribution of this information does not constitute an assumption by us of your obligations to provide a safe workplace. Maintaining a safe workplace in accordance with all laws is your responsibility. We make no representation or warranty that our activities or recommendations will place you in compliance with law, relieve you of potential liability or ensure your premises or operations are safe. We exercise no control over your premises or operations and have no responsibility or authority to implement loss prevention practices or procedures.

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