Feature Article: Feeling the heat

Todd Dills | March 01, 2010

“This will replace the Motor Vehicle Record” as the standard in background information in hiring, says Lansing. “Companies in the past looked at what drivers to hire on the basis of what tickets they had. Now it’s not only the tickets but the warnings, the marks on inspection reports.”

Don Osterberg, Schneider National’s safety vice president, believes the combination of the driver portion of CSA 2010 with the screening tool will be good for carriers and drivers. “We’ll be able to make a determination of safety and hire the drivers who are predisposed to be safe,” he says. “I would argue that today, because there is no driver rating, there has been safe haven in our industry for bad drivers” that ultimately reduces opportunity for the good.

Owner-operator McCorkle concurs. “If you have a bad work record or bad driving record, you’re going to suffer, but I haven’t heard or read anything where they’re going to take your license. My own personal opinion is these companies can’t afford the cowboys anymore. A one-vehicle accident costs thousands.”

Dart Transit, a largely owner-operator carrier, underwent a three-week, on-site compliance review last summer as a result of CSA 2010, says Safety Vice President Gary Volkman. “FMCSA walked out of here and gave us a satisfactory rating – no fines, no penalties, no nothing,” he says.

The agency had more to say to other carriers. FMCSA gave Kennesaw a year to remedy its deficiency in the Unsafe Driving BASIC without penalty. “We eventually dropped 12 points from the moving violation indicator,” says Clay, “which satisfied the state of Georgia and the federal government. Plus, when we implemented these things, my accident number on my Safestat was up into the 80s and 90s, and subsequently it is way down in the 50s. It’s saved us a lot of money – our insurance company loves us.”

Hogan still has months left in its own one-year period, after which FMCSA has warned of a full-fledged audit if they don’t turn things around. Drivers are listening, says Lansing, “and they’re understanding, but we’re not changing our behavior yet. For instance, our Unsafe Driving scores gradually crept up a little bit. All the emphasis, all the talking, and it’s not coming down – we haven’t been able to get drivers to make a quick impact.”

While Lansing is disconcerted by how his company can be A-OK in the eyes of the federal government under Safestat but not so under CSA 2010, he appreciates that FMCSA is trying to get to the root of safety problems.

Safestat, with its focus on out-of-service violations, was more concerned with outcome, he says, while the industry’s safety professionals focus on behavior. “Now the government is looking at it the same way.” n


Who’s at fault?

Industry concerned about misplaced accountability for cargo securement, truck condition and no-fault accidents

 

As CSA 2010 stiffens the safety regulatory process, it appears that some aspects of assigning responsibility for problems could be lacking in accuracy or fairness.

Some of the areas have drawn objections from owner-operators and carriers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not respond to requests to answer the complaints.

If a problem is found with carrier-owned equipment, for instance, points will be assigned to the carrier and, internally, to the driver, in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category).