Annette Sandberg, a former Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, gave fleets a clear look ahead at the impact of CSA on their own operations and on the industry as a whole in a live webcast that was held on September 14. The webcast, “Keeping Your Fleet’s CSA Vehicle Maintenance Score Low,” was presented by Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA) and Fleet Owner and sponsored by Zonar Systems.
Sandberg, who is now managing partner of TransSafe Consulting, LLC, began her presentation with a look at the crowded regulatory environment, including:
- Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs): Phase 2, expected in December 2010, will likely extend the reach of the regulation to mandate EOBRs for more fleets
- Hours of Service (HOS): A new proposed rulemaking expected in November 2010 may further reduce on-duty hours
- HOS Supporting Documents: Still in litigation. American Trucking Assns. (ATA) is suing to have this regulation removed
- National Registry of Medical Examiners – Expected by January 2011
- Entry Level Driver Training: To be published in January 2011
- Commercial Learner’s Permit (CDL Testing): Expected in November 2010
- Texting : Banned while operating a vehicle (with a few exceptions) in Oct 2010
- Cell Phones: Action on use of cell phones is expected in Dec 2010
- Wet Lines Rulemaking: For HazMat carriers-- pending
- National Database on CMV Drug and Alcohol Testing : Expected in March 2011
- Safety Fitness Determination: Expected in February 2011
The challenge at hand for fleets right now, however, is to prepare for CSA. The new safety scoring system, Sandberg explained, is designed to more effectively target carriers with problems. “It allows FMCSA and States to have more tools to intervene with “potentially unsafe” carriers,” she said.
A major difference between CSA and the current SafeStat system is that CSA uses all data from the roadside to identify potential problems, Sandberg noted. “This will mean more potential enforcement against poor performing carriers. I strongly encourage any fleet that has yet to see their current CSA ratings to do so right away.”
When it comes to CSA’s Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, Sandberg urged fleets to reduce their risk of intervention by establishing tighter controls on DVIRs (driver vehicle inspection reports), periodic maintenance, and annual inspections.
“Vehicle maintenance is one of the toughest areas to track,” she said. “Many drivers consider DVIRs a nuisance and many companies do not have adequate controls to monitor pre- and post-trip inspections. Follow-through on deficiencies noted in DVIRs is often weak or non-existent as well. It is critical that carriers have a robust system to monitor all required vehicle maintenance items.”
Sandberg also reminded fleets that their new safety ratings will be available to the general public online (with the exception of the crash rating) as well as to shippers and brokers. Shippers will want to see a fleet’s CSA ratings, she said, because they can share accountability for an accident if they hire a carrier with poor CSA ratings.
It is too bad that litigation shapes the way things work, Sandberg noted, but it does. “I’ve already seen several lawsuits where shippers or brokers are being sued along with their carriers,” she said. “That is the approach plaintiffs’ attorneys are now taking.”
More than 250 people attended the live webcast and Sandberg fielded numerous questions, from how peer groups are selected for CSA to the appeal process if a carrier feels a rating is unjust.
In response to a question about the impact of CSA on freight rates, she said that while increasing safety is a good goal, the supply chain would definitely feel the impact of the new procedure. Sandberg said that will be expressed in terms of decreased capacity, higher rates and increased costs for goods and materials.
The complete webcast, including the Q&A portion of the program, is now available online at no charge. Link to it from the Truckload Carriers Association website, the Zonar Website, or Fleet Owner’s website, or click on this link.