The trucking industry will soon see a change in the FMCSA safety rating system, Safestat. The new program, CSA 2010 will soon be underway. I see what could be a good thing for the safety standards of the trucking industry, but at the same time . . . are there areas that, like most programs, could actually bring about more abuse towards drivers?
Since the 1980’s motor carriers have been evaluated by the FMCSA through a CR – Compliance Review. This review is lengthy, time consuming and involves heavy paperwork . . . but is the only way the FMCSA can assign ratings for safety. Because of the heavy workload involved with the CR, less than 2% of the trucking companies in the U. S. were inspected within a year. Furthermore, through the CR evaluation process, the safety rating given to the carrier does not expire until the carrier is again scheduled to be rated again . . . no matter how poorly the carrier is currently operating.
As of right now, under the Safestat safety rating system, trucking companies are checked within four areas:
- Safety Management
The CSA 2010 system will increase to seven areas:
- Unsafe Driving
- Fatigued Driving
- Driver Fitness
- Controlled Substance and Alcohol
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Improper Loading/Cargo Securement
- Crash Indicator
Furthermore, two new safety measurement systems will come into play with the CSA 2010: one for carriers (CSMS) and one for drivers (DSMS). Never before were drivers directly measured for safety under the SafeStat system, but now they will be . . . and this is where I see the potential for problems.
There is a lot that I like about the new CSA 2010 system, mostly making drivers more responsible for their actions in relation to safety. However, I can see a few areas that could easily be turned around and used against drivers under no fault of their own:
- Fatigued Driving — Driving a CMV when fatigued. This is distinguished from incidents where unconsciousness or an inability to react is brought about by the use of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances. Data includes (1) hours-of-service violations discovered during an off-site investigation, on-site investigation, roadside inspection, or post-crash inspection, and (2) crash reports with driver fatigue as a contributing factor. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 395)
Drivers are often “pushed” by dispatch to deliver “HOT” load(s) – of course, they can refuse but will driver risk “punishment” by company such as drop in miles? Starved out? DAC Report?
Vehicle Maintenance — CMV failure due to improper or inadequate maintenance. Data includes (1) roadside violations for brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, (2) crash reports citing a mechanical failure as a contributing factor, and (3) violations from an off-site investigation or an on-site investigation associated with pre-trip inspections, maintenance records, and repair records. (FMCSR Parts 393 and 396)
Driver held responsible when company has their own “maintenance” dept./ shop which signs off for repairs. Why should the driver receive points or fines where they have no control over a company who operates with poorly maintained equipment?
- Improper Loading/Cargo Securement — Shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo, and unsafe handling of hazardous materials. Data includes (1) roadside inspection violations pertaining to load securement, cargo retention, and hazardous material handling, and (2) crash reports citing shifting loads, or spilled/dropped cargo as a cause or contributing factor. (FMCSR Parts 392, 393, 397 and HM Violations)
Many trailers are loaded by shipper while driver is not allowed on dock or to supervise loading. Driver is required to remain in truck. Driver should not be held responsible for an unsecured load that he or she does not have the opportunity to inspect.
I feel the FMCSA has good intentions with the CSA 2010 system, but I can already see the potential of responsibilities easily being manipulated and placed unjustly, once again, on the professional driver.
READ POST CSA and DAC to Cause more Job Loss posted 1/18/10
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