Focused approach

Dec. 1, 2011
COMPANY: VERST GROUP LOGISTICS OPERATION: Asset-based 3PL with 100 company-owned tractors PROBLEM: Implementation of the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) standards presented a significant change in the way transportation operations would be evaluated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. With an historically strong emphasis on fleet safety, the asset-based 3PL provider Verst

COMPANY: VERST GROUP LOGISTICS

OPERATION: Asset-based 3PL with 100 company-owned tractors

PROBLEM:

Implementation of the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) standards presented a significant change in the way transportation operations would be evaluated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. With an historically strong emphasis on fleet safety, the asset-based 3PL provider Verst Group Logistics decided early last year that it wanted to get out ahead of that change before CSA officially came into effect in November 2010.

But before the Walton, KY-based company could refine its safety programs to address CSA, it needed to identify potential CSA-related issues within its own operations as well as determine what kinds of training would be most effective for its drivers.

“We wanted to be able to see potential issues [under the new CSA program] and collect data on drivers that would show us what areas needed training,” said Christopher Cusick, vice president of transportation. “The goal was to get a jump on compliance and also help educate drivers on CSA.”

SOLUTION:

When it comes to safety, there's no single silver bullet. It takes a coordinated, comprehensive and consistent approach to create an environment that fosters safety excellence, the type of excellence that is reflected in high CSA ratings.

For Verst that meant combining some well-established monitoring technologies and programs with some new tools that take direct aim at CSA compliance.

The company has for some time used Fleet Mentor software from J.J. Keller & Associates and PeopleNet's Fleet Manager onboard technologies with GPS tracking and vehicle performance monitoring to help it maintain high safety standards.

It's recently moved to complement those systems with a video-based onboard recording technology. Called SmartDrive, it automatically captures events linked to risky driver behaviors and forwards the video to a team of safety analysts.

“We believe that the key to preventing accidents is identifying potential driver issues, and then responding with coaching designed to change those unsafe behaviors,” says Cusick. “People usually respond well to coaching.” A safety bonus incentive program and a driver safety committee reinforce Verst's emphasis on training and positive reinforcement.

The company has for some time used Driver Management Online, a web-based dashboard that offers insight into the fleet's safety compliance and performance on an ongoing basis. But responding to the specific requirements of CSA, Verst decided to add the Vigillo CSA monitoring system to its arsenal in April of last year, a full seven months before the federal safety program went into effect. The system collects a wide variety of vehicle and driver operating information to help a fleet understand how that information will impact its CSA ratings.

“We wanted to see any potential issues beforehand so we could identify any areas where drivers might need more training and refine our safety programs,” says Cusick. “We also wanted to help educate our drivers on CSA.”

Verst's combination of safety-related technologies has been quite successful based on accident incident rates, property damage costs, and CSA scores, all of which are well below FMCSA thresholds, according to Cusick. “Technology certainly plays a part, but it's what you do with that information that really counts,” he says.

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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