Channel 19

Todd Dills

Using CSA to your advantage

| August 26, 2012

Presenting at one of the Texas Motor Transport Association-sponsored “Smart Sessions” at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Compliance Safety Systems CEO David Saunders, a longtime former owner-operator and driver, hammered home a message that’s seen no shortage of recent airing here on Channel 19: The fast pace of change in today’s industry means owner-operators, drivers and carriers themselves absolutely have to be quick-thinking in modifications to adapt to changes. “It’s not going away,” he said of the Compliance Safety Accountability program specifically. “Use it to your advantage and think like a business person.”

Saunders gave the example of his brother, still on the road as a driver who recently “took a perfect driving record and put himself out for bid to several carriers and is making about $2,200 a week today,” Saunders said.

Drivers who can use the system to their ultimate advantage will, Saunders suggested, see the long-term benefit in pay. Motor carrier culture is changing now that the data-driven CSA program is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s statistical window into prioritizing inspections. “We’ve lost two carriers in the last two months,” Saunders said, as FMCSA uses the wealth of data in CSA to target carrier with problems.

Saunders also offered the example of carrier customer recently fined $43,000 dollars for problems stemming more or less from “17 drivers being knot-heads, and he wasn’t disciplining those drivers” or otherwise doing anything at all to correct the problems.

The owner said, “Oh, just pay it.”

But “I’ve got a better idea”: Take $43,000 and give it to your drivers.” No violations? You get a bonus.

More carriers are realizing the need for better pay and understanding the full import of the CSA system, but, still, “so many companies have no idea what I’m talking about,” Saunders said. “Carriers are going to have to figure out how to pay for you. The drivers who don’t want to pay attention to this, well, they’re not going to be around. Let’s learn [CSA] and use it to market our benefits.”

Many drivers are hearing his message — this isn’t the first year he’s presented his CSA message in GATS Smart Sessions. Last year, he said, he may have gotten 12, tops, in the most well-attended session. At the session Saturday, it was pretty well standing room only.

Keep an eye on my Twitter feed as well as this blog for the next couple days for updates from D.C. — I’ll be at the public Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee meeting. In news I wrote about Friday, Administrator Anne Ferro noted that the MCSAC would be establishing a special CSA subcommittee to address ongoing problems with the analysis and enforcement regime. There will likewise be a presentation on regulatory action items in the MAP-21 highway bill (including EOBRs), as well as the cross-border trucking program.

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