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A Commitment To Safety Begins With Compliance To The Rules

To say that the trucking industry operates in a highly-regulated environment would be an understatement. When I worked for a carrier that transported dangerous goods, we determined that as many as 10 ...

To say that the trucking industry operates in a highly-regulated environment would be an understatement. When I worked for a carrier that transported dangerous goods, we determined that as many as 10 different regulatory bodies could audit our activities, and each of them contributed their own rules to the business. Progressive fleets certainly need to do more than simply “comply” with the rules -they must embrace best practices -but there is no mistaking the fact that compliance is still an important element of an effective safety management program.

Consider the value of compliance-related information that can be used as a barometer of fleet activities. While carrier profiles such as Ontario’s CVOR do not reflect every aspect of an organization’s commitment to safety, for example, the regularly updated records can be used to monitor trends and establish benchmarks. A fleet safety manager who notices an increase in behaviour- related driving violations such as speeding or following too closely could identify the employees who require some remedial training. And a spike in hours-of-service violations could also indicate the need to refine efforts that manage fatigue.

Regulators such as the Ontario Ministry of Transportation are even expanding the scope of these profiles to better reflect a fleet’s overall commitment to safety.

Rather than focusing on if you comply with regulations, the audit process now looks at how you comply with regulations.

A decade ago, the mechanical condition of a fleet was measured strictly in terms of the number of reported defects. Today, carriers need to identify the process that a driver will follow when a defect is discovered, show how the information will be communicated to the maintenance department, and determine that the repair was made.

There has been a similar shift in the monitoring of hours-of-service rules. While provincial auditors were once focused exclusively on log sheets and compliance with the related record keeping, they are now looking for initiatives such as fatigue management techniques and the remedial measures for drivers who have trouble with their logbooks.

Approaches are being refined south of the border in the process.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expanding the scope of the information that it monitors through an initiative known as Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010.

The new Safety Measurement System that is replacing SafeStat (the traditional online profiles) will measure roadside violations and crash data over two years. That data will be used to calculate a score in seven Behavioural Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories:unsafe driving, fatigue, driver fitness, drugs and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo securement and crash history. Recent violations that are closely linked with crashes will carry a heavier weighting than others, and carriers will then be ranked against their peers to identify high-risk drivers and high-risk fleets.

In the meantime, safety managers can still use today’s carrier profiles to identify safety-related trends long before the data ever triggers an intervention or causes a shipper to question a fleet’s overall commitment to safety.

Every crash in the US should be recorded on the FMCSA’s SafeStat report within 90 days, while the results of roadside inspections should show up within 21 days. These tend to be updated on the third week of every month, and should be accessed at least once a month. In the case of Ontario’s CVOR, carriers should be accessing the information at least twice a year, if not once a quarter. During annual reviews, fleets should compare this data to the information that drivers have reported to the safety department.

Collectively, operating records such as these can be combined with data that is collected by the fleet itself. An electronic engine, for example, can identify factors such as the number of hard braking events, excessive speed, engine revolutions and idling statistics, which could then be compared to the number of on-road violations that are found on a driver’s abstract. This can be used to identify the trends that require remedial action before an employee develops into a high-risk driver.

The loss control personnel at your insurance company will be able to leverage data such as loss runs (a statement listing all the different types of losses that have occurred) to identify the remedial training that high-risk drivers will require.

The management of compliance to other rules that govern the workplace can lead to a number of additional dividends as well. Changes to the New Experimental Experience Rating (NEER) that is tracked by Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board alone can be used to determine rates. It is just another reason why fleet managers should work with industry trade associations to track all of the ever-changing rules that govern so many aspects of the trucking industry. We all know that the regulators are watching. The information that they collect should be managed as well.

-This month’s expert is Dave Roth, Ontario regional manager of safety and training services. Markel Safety and Training Services offers specialized courses, seminars and consulting to fleet owners, safety managers, trainers and drivers. Send questions and comments to

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Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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