There are many different driving styles. There's the careful, defensive driver who looks ahead, analyzes the situation and plans a course designed to take them through heavy traffic unscathed. On the other extreme, there's the driver whose only thought is reaching his or her destination as fast as possible. Traffic is viewed as a hindrance, congestion as a challenge and speed limits become mere advisaries.
While people have a driving style, motor carriers have a regulatory compliance style. Some believe they can't run legally and operate at a profit; that regulations get in the way of productivity. For those carriers, CSA is going to be a struggle. Chances are their current SafeStat score is high, which will certainly translate into unwanted attention as CSA ramps up. Their's is a "full speed ahead" style, and it masks the true causes behind their high scores.
Many others have adopted a corporate style that actually embraces regulations and strives for compliance. Yes, I used the word "embrace" and "regulation" in the same sentence. CSA is here to stay and you chose to embrace regulations, then CSA will prove to be a valuable tool for improving compliance, keeping insurance costs down, attracting new customers and even improving driver quality. These early adopters will have a competitive edge in a crowded industry.
During the recently completed RoadCheck 2010, the most common causes of equipment inspection violations were brakes, lights and tires. Half of the out-of-service violations were brake related. It's easy to predict which corporate style will be most effective at reducing these problems and generating positive results.
Both motor carriers and drivers are stakeholders in a carrier's safety rating. In fact, CSA even adds driver scoring to the mix. But it's the motor carrier that must drive the process. A relentless focus on miles driven and productivity results in the "full speed ahead" mind set. Although this may seem like the best path to profitability, it's a certainty that with this approach, safety and compliance will take a back seat. There's the impact on driver health and vehicle maintenance to consider as well. Many times the underlying problems, such as hours of service compliance and vehicle defects, remain hidden from scrutiny until they're brought to light during the discovery process in the initial stages of a post-accident lawsuit.
Embracing CSA is not, in itself, a magic formula for creating a profitable and efficient operation. You certainly must still apply many time-proven business management techniques. But CSA can certainly be a big help by providing trending information and peer ranking.
If your fleet is having a problem with brake defects during roadside inspections, starting a new in-house inspection program might not be the answer if operating parameters don't allow time to cycle equipment through the shop. Starting a driver retraining program might not reduce log violations if the key operating parameter is to accept customer load offerings and then assign them to the available driver pool. Rather than trying to maximize miles and accepting every load offered, try analyzing the different load scenarios by their impact on a driver's hours of service and equipment utilization, as it might result in better overall efficiency and compliance.
CSA ushers in a new way to look at safety information. Utilize it to its maximum and let style control the outcome in your organization.