It would be difficult to underestimate the growing role of safety-related data in the business of trucking. Shippers are analyzing more of this information than ever before when deciding who should ca...
It would be difficult to underestimate the growing role of safety-related data in the business of trucking. Shippers are analyzing more of this information than ever before when deciding who should carry freight; insurers are using similar factors to calculate risks; banks are digging through the data to identify emerging financial troubles; and regulators are using it to target sanctions.
Every one of these groups will soon have access to a new source of information thanks to CSA 2010 -a system that will monitor the actions of fleets and drivers who travel in the US.
Despite recent delays, the associated Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS) went online in April, while enforcement personnel are preparing to use the reports to draft warning letters and schedule on-site compliance reviews as early as this November.
Rather than simply counting the number of collisions and out-of-service violations, the data in this system focuses on seven ‘Basics,’ including reports of unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, use of controlled substances and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo-related issues, and crash indicators. Results from each roadside inspection will also be used in the various calculations, even when findings are favourable or limited to an issue like an overweight axle or mechani- cal problem that can be fixed on the spot. And the profiles that emerge will be published for the whole world to see, making it particularly important to ensure the data is as accurate and favourable as possible.
The process of managing the data begins by educating drivers and other fleet employees about the new system, and by tracking the related information that it can offer.
The CSMS reports hardly need to be a surprise to anyone. With the help of an insurer, fleets already have the chance to analyze 30 months of existing violations, identifying issues that need to be addressed before enforcement personnel ever make a call. Carriers, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to track any changes in the records by monitoring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Web site or by signing up for automatic updates.
These are not the only ways that record-keeping procedures will play an important role.
A commitment to check every related violation report, for example, will help to spot the inspection results that actually belong to another fleet. And safety managers who file inspection reports by state will have the opportunity to identify jurisdictions where they haven’t been given credit for favourable inspections. (Equipment that tends to record an out-of-service rate of 4% shouldn’t suddenly fail 90% of inspections as soon as it crosses a particular state line). It is all part of an ongoing commitment to evaluating the quality of the data behind the reports.
Once information like this is in hand, it is a matter of establishing the procedures that will lead to positive results. If an anomaly in the data is discovered, the odds of a successful challenge are actually in a fleet’s favour. Looking at the 41,000 situations that were reviewed between February 2004 and September 2008, the FMCSA revised its data 64% of the time.
Meanwhile, drivers can play their own role in the paper shuffle of CSA 2010 by requesting a copy of a favourable report every time they pass a roadside inspection. Sometimes it will just be a matter of making a polite request, and enforcement officers will likely finish the document if they learn that the driver earns a bonus for that simple piece of paper. But even if an officer refuses to fill out the paperwork, drivers can still give safety managers the information they need, recording details about the time, date and location of the inspection as well as the related patrol number and badge number.
Most driver-related out-of-service issues also tend to include Hours-of- Service violations. If a fleet spots a problem before CSA 2010 becomes a reality, however, it will be able to initiate the corrective actions that will be seen in a favourable light.
Equipment-related out-of-service rates can be analyzed in a similar way. When most of the violations appear to be linked to problems that should be caught during a pretrip inspection, it’s safe to say that regulators will want to see proof of retraining initiatives to correct the issues. It proves that the data from CSA 2010 is about more than a paper-pushing exercise. It is a tool which will offer insight that a fleet can use to become as safe and profitable as possible. Everyone should welcome that.
-This month’s expert is Rick Geller. Rick is the director of safety and signature services for Markel Insurance Company of Canada and has more than 25 years experience providing loss control and risk management services to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.