As we are now in the third month of 2011, small carriers are more accustomed to the CSA enforcement system. Many of you have implemented policies in hiring and in managing your drivers and equipment, making CSA compliance an easier task. Here are a few examples of how some carriers are adapting.
One carrier has instituted a “no moving violation tolerance policy” where a driver who has more than a single moving violation in a single year is dismissed or their contract canceled. A logbook violation causing an out-of-service order (OOS) results in immediate dismissal.
Another company has instituted a preventive maintenance program for all company and lease operator trucks to help ensure they won't receive any OOS orders on their equipment. Equipment will be DOT-inspected at least every 90 days to improve the company's safety score.
There are several carriers in the process of looking at how they compensate their drivers and working on ways to increase pay while reducing the amount of logged hours on duty. One company has developed a program to increase driver pay significantly through fuel economy programs, scrapping fuel surcharges, and working with shippers to improve overall efficiency. The program benefits both the shipper and the person purchasing the fuel on a real-time, fuel-price basis, while helping everyone's bottom line.
Another small carrier developed specific lanes for each driver with more than ample time for the driver to complete the turn. Drivers return to the home terminal with 15 to 20 hours still available for on-duty tasks and use the 34-hour restart only when they are home for more than three days. The carriers' seven drivers haul general truckload freight, nothing specialized. They work 20 to 24 days a month and earn more than most drivers do in 30 days.
The point is, the savvy business truckers can do more than just survive under CSA; they can thrive. They are much more adaptable to the changes brought forth by CSA than most large carriers are. The larger carriers will need to change entire business models. The churning of truckers will be a thing of the past for the large carriers, and the profits from lease purchasing in the manner it has been done for the past several decades will go the way of the dodo bird — or the carrier itself will. CSA is the best field leveler for small carriers since deregulation.
Now with that said, the owner-operators and carriers that continue to do business as they have in the past by pushing the hours-of-service envelope, skimping on preventive maintenance, hauling freight on a static per-mile rate, running without a complete understanding of their cost of doing business and not operating in specific freight lanes will fail.
Change is always difficult, even when change is good. I'm not saying all these new regulations are beneficial for the industry; however, those carriers that adapt and develop ways for the new rules to work in their favor will be the ones that thrive.
Contact Tim Brady at 731-749-8567 or at www.timothybrady.com