Track and Quotes

Show Shipment Information - Track and Trace PackageTrack and Trace
Get a Shipping Rate QuoteRate Quote

CSA 2010 Will Bar Many Drivers, Affect Shippers, TCA Warned
Monday, 08 March 2010 00:00

LAS VEGAS—Already expected to eliminate several thousand truckers from the driving pool, the federal government’s new truck safety rating system is likely to threaten the career of thousands more, as well the fortunes of many fleets, carrier executives and others familiar with the program said.

Truckload executives meeting here were told that changes in their operations—and relations with shippers—could be required to maintain strong safety scores when the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 regulation is implemented later this year.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to begin implementing CSA 2010 in July.

“It is clear a lot of carriers were late to recognize the scope of CSA 2010,” Chris Burruss, president of the Truckload Carriers Association, said in an interview during the group’s annual meeting here Feb. 28 to March 3.

Kevin Burch, outgoing TCA chairman and president of Jet Express Inc., said CSA 2010, along with economic recovery and an aging workforce, was part of “a perfect storm” that would rapidly bring the driver shortage issue back to the forefront.

Gregory Feary, a managing partner at the law firm Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, Indianapolis, said CSA 2010 could make driver retention more expensive, because all carriers will look for the higher-rated drivers, who also might seek better-paying positions with competitors.

Feary compared highly rated drivers to free agents in professional sports who can command signing bonuses because of their talents.

Jeffrey Davis, vice president of safety and human resources for Jet Express Inc., Dayton, Ohio, offered a blunt assessment of the burden facing the industry.

“We are asking drivers not to avoid [being placed] out of service [during inspections] but to be perfect,” he said. “Every single defect will hurt the driver and carrier.”

With each inspection generating data and posted on the Web, some executives said safety ratings could change rapidly.

“You have to understand the pressure that will be on your safety departments,” Davis said at a CSA 2010 overview session during the event.

Carriers viewed as less safe are far more likely to face additional inspections and a cycle difficult to break, with more pressure on maintenance personnel.

“With the amount of data involved . . . you are going to have to readjust your workforce,” Davis warned.

Steven Bryan, CEO of Vigillo LLC, a company offering driver safety scorecards endorsed by American Trucking Associations, told TT that many fleets could be surprised to see how they are viewed under CSA 2010.

He said 76% of the fleets providing data to Vigillo—fleets staffed with more than 400,000 drivers—are over the threshold in at least one procedure that could trigger an enforcement action.

Statistics show that the cargo securement is an issue demanding particular attention, Bryan said. The issue also was of concern to new TCA Chairman John Kaburick.

“Under CSA, a fleet would receive as many points for cargo securement as [for] driving drunk,” said Kaburick, who is president of Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co., Salem, Ill.

The importance of the cargo securement was one of many topics addressed during a meeting of TCA’s Carrier-Shipper Relations Committee.

Members including committee chairman Jim Ward, CEO of D.M. Bowman Inc., Williamsport, Md., said CSA 2010 would make it even more important that shippers try to provide more flexibility with delivery times.

Shippers also should be willing to allow drivers to park at their facilities if they arrive early or remain on the grounds until off-duty time ends, especially if they have long wait times.

Trucking executives also discussed the need for shippers to provide more leeway on loading docks and with routing.

“Some shippers load based on complex formulas to maximize loads, and that is great. However, we are not all operating the same equipment,” said John Pope, CEO of Cargo Transporters Inc. Claremont, N.C.

To protect drivers, loading docks should be prepared to occasionally make small, last-minute adjustments, he said.

Likewise, small errors on bills of lading or accidentally routing a driver along a portion of a restricted highway—where the driver then is pulled over—could have lasting effects on safety ratings.

“These things not only affect carriers but also directly the professional drivers, so it is even more important shippers and carriers act responsibly on their behalf. Their careers could be on the line,” Ward said.

Janet Kemp, manager of carrier operations at U.S. Gypsum Corp., Chicago, attempted to sum up the view of shippers: “It is everyone’s best interest that shippers work with carriers to correct what needs to be corrected now. Shippers have to play their part.”

Stacey Stivers, transportation technology manager at Frito-Lay Inc., Dallas, said the company is reviewing ways to “fine-tune its operational practices” in response to CSA 2010.

Kemp added that shippers feel there is some “mystery” in CSA 2010 scoring, and they are unsure how to accurately measure carriers.

Still, Kemp said she knows it will affect shippers, a point recently underscored by former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Annette Sandberg.

John Larkin, an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc., wrote to clients after a conference call last month: “Sandberg thinks that FMCSA is not adequately considering the implications of their new system on the nation’s supply chain.”

Transport Topics, 3/8/2010