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CSA 2010 offers valuable insight into fleet safety

North America's trucking industry is only weeks away from life under CSA 2010 -a new safety measurement system that will be applied to everyone operating in the US.

North America’s trucking industry is only weeks away from life under CSA 2010 -a new safety measurement system that will be applied to everyone operating in the US.

Beginning this December, the results will be released to the industry’s customers; related data will begin to feed the Inspection Selection System (ISS) used to target roadside inspections; and enforcement officials will focus on the carriers that cross well-defined thresholds. Many unwelcome surprises can be avoided by checking the data today.

Carriers and enforcement personnel can already access two years of related Safety Management System (SMS) data with nothing more than a DoT number and a related PIN. It is simply a matter of visiting, and selecting the “data preview” option on the menu bar. There, fleets can see how they perform against seven Behaviour Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) including unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, use of controlled substances and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo-related issues, and a crash indicator.

Past measurements may have been limited to counting the number of collisions and out-of-service violations, but this new system will record and measure the results from every roadside inspection, even when the findings are favourable or limited to a mechanical problem that can be fixed on the spot.

Surprisingly, many fleets have yet to take advantage of a sneak peak at this information that will influence their businesses in the weeks and months to come. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has already generated 6,600 warning letters during field tests in several states, yet only half of the fleets that received these letters have bothered to review the data, let alone tried to correct any errors with the help of the related DataQ system.

But a review of CSA 2010 data is more than a matter of checking to see if a fleet simply complies with the rules. It offers some clear insight into the behaviours which increase the likelihood of a crash. Specific safety-related issues that were once able to hide in the three broad categories of today’s safety ratings are also more clearly identified through CSA 2010’s seven BASICs.

The reports will certainly warn carriers about potential interventions as well. Those who have recorded one of the worrisome “red flag” violations -such as operating a vehicle without a valid CDL -can expect immediate safety investigations by FMCSA inspectors.

Meanwhile, carriers labelled with the FMCSA’s “high-risk” designation can expect an increasing focus of their own. These companies are considered to be “deficient” in two or more of the BASICs, and exceed an 85% threshold in the limits set for unsafe driving, fatigued driving or crash-indicating categories. The high-risk label will also apply to any carrier deficient in four BASICs or more.

But one recent change to the system will adjust the data so high-mileage carriers will not be penalized by the added exposure that comes with extra time on the road. The number of vehicles used to calculate the performance of one of these fleets will actually be determined by combining the number of power units and overall mileage. If more than 70% of the fleet’s assets include tractor-trailers, for example, the mileage of these vehicles will be capped at a maximum of 85,000 miles per year. The mileage recorded beyond that limit will then be used to create a number of fictional trucks, which will be added to the size of the fleet during any calculations. With that higher number of trucks, individual violations will account for a lower percentage of an allowable threshold.

The nature of the fleet’s cargo will also play a role in the number of violations which will trigger actions by FMCSA personnel. The officials will usually begin to intervene once a carrier reaches 65% of the thresholds set for the menacing threats of unsafe driving, fatigued driving, or a crash indicator; or when a company reaches 80% of the thresholds set for driver fitness, drug and alcohol violations, vehicle maintenance or cargo issues. The haulers of hazardous materials will face interventions sooner than that, since their thresholds will be set at a respective 60% and 75%. Passenger-carrying fleets such as bus companies can expect an intervention if they reach half of their allowable thresholds for any of the seven BASICs. By familiarizing themselves with the changes to CSA 2010, carriers will not only be ahead of the game and well-prepared, but will also be able to measure exactly how safe their fleet is.

-This month’s expert is Dave Roth. Dave is the Ontario regional manager of safety and training services for Markel Insurance Company of Canada and has more than 20 years experience in managing safety and operations in the trucking industry. Markel Safety and Training Services, a division of Markel Insurance Company of Canada, offers specialized courses, seminars and consulting to fleet owners, safety managers, trainers and drivers. Markel is the country’s largest trucking insurer providing more than 50 years of continuous service to the transportation industry. Send your questions, feedback and comments about this column to read about more industry hot topics, visit Markel’s Web site at www.markel.caand click on the Articles & Essays section.

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