Driving home the BASICs

Last year, I wrote about the value of an education and its effect on being prepared to enter the field of truck driving as a safe and well-trained entry-level driver. Hopefully, you will remember the column as I expound on the theory that I put forth last year. Recently, while attending the planning meeting for TCA's Safety and Security Div., I had the opportunity to tour the facilities at Covenant

Last year, I wrote about the value of an education and its effect on being prepared to enter the field of truck driving as a safe and well-trained entry-level driver. Hopefully, you will remember the column as I expound on the theory that I put forth last year.

Recently, while attending the planning meeting for TCA's Safety and Security Div., I had the opportunity to tour the facilities at Covenant Transport. Walking away afterwards with time to ponder my thoughts, I was amazed at the safety training and continuing educational opportunities that exist within the walls at Covenant. It was at this moment that I realized that the company didn't miss a beat when it came to focusing and emphasizing its safety practices.

Any and all opportunities that presented themselves were dedicated to instilling a greater safety culture at the company. From what seemed like the constant availability of computer-based safety training around every corner to signs posted in the restrooms, it left no doubt as to what the primary focus is — and that is making every driver in the fleet safer.

I imagine that many carriers across the country fall into the same category as Covenant Transport. As CSA continues its process of rating carriers, if you, as a carrier, are not taking advantage of training or giving your drivers a refresher course on safety techniques, you may find yourself behind the eight ball. As you may know from looking at your CSA scores, even a constant reminder to wear your seat belt can have positive effects on your ratings, since that remains one of the highest factors affecting your unsafe driving BASIC.

A carrier and its drivers can always reap the benefits of remedial training or constant reminders that focus on what appears to be basic information worth remembering. I wonder what effect a constant reminder may have on a driver who forgets his or her wallet card reflecting their DOT medical certificate. This can be yet another BASIC that can be lessened by constant, yet remedial training and have a great effect on your driver fitness BASIC, as in many cases, it represents the number-one violation of the driver fitness BASIC.

While I am by no means recommending subliminal messaging to hammer home the basics on BASICs, I am suggesting that taking advantage of opportunities to instill a safety culture which focuses on the simple things could go a long way to getting your CSA scores to a more acceptable level. By providing drivers with various means to enhance their safety performance, your fleet's scores can then also be enhanced. By using CSA and its related BASIC scores the way they were intended to be, carriers can analyze the data to identify the fleet's safety shortcomings.

Continuing the education process to constantly emphasize safety issues could have a positive effect on the performance of your drivers and turn those shortcomings into strengths. While we operate in a CSA world of BASIC scores and inspections, real-world importance on mundane safety issues can certainly act as positive reminders for drivers to inspect trucks with a more thorough eye, wear seat belts, and remember the routine things it takes to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely.

Doing all of these things will not only help to lower your CSA scores, but help to save lives too.


David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn. He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to Safety411@truckload.org.

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