Much debate is taking place within the Transportation industry as to the merits of CSA. On the surface, it appears we have 3 camps – one on each side of the issue and one in the middle. The first, which I'll call Camp A (the positive), sees CSA as an opportunity to create goodwill by demonstrating how critical safety is to everyday operations. This camp also see it as having a positive PR impact in the community, sees it having the potential to actually reduce operating costs and loosely ties itself to lower carbon emissions, helping them to be seen as doing their part as a good global citizen. Camp C (the negative), sees CSA as an unnecessary burden arriving at a bad time that will lead to competitive pressures, cost increases and an overall negative feeling towards oppressive bureaucracy. The third, Camp B (the moderate), understands the need for compliance and agrees with the improved safety gains that can be realized, albeit with an increase in operating costs. Which of these three camps would you put yourself in?
Let's review the root cause behind CSA's implementation: poor safety records on the part of some carriers and an inability on the part of government agencies to effectively monitor no more than 2% of the trucking companies for compliance. CSA, either in its present form or in some future variation, is here to stay; now we need to figure out ways to make it work.
What does it mean to the trucking company?
Those that have been complying with the rules and regulations will continue to deliver value to their shareholders, to their shippers and to public at large. Those companies that haven't will need to bring their fleet up to expected levels of compliance (may increase maintenance costs), improve driver skills and behaviour and invest in EOBR technology. With respect to EOBRs, there may be some initial upfront costs, but carriers should see a quick payback from savings in both accident reduction and improved fuel efficiency as the result of modified driver behaviour. The overall outcome should be a reduction in accidents, improved efficiencies and a positive contribution to the environment as a result of improved fuel management. The possibility of reducing insurance rates as a result of a safer fleet should be achieved.
Are there too many regulations in the Trucking industry? Perhaps. Did this rash of new and altered regulations come about as a result of policy makers trying to deal with safety concerns without sufficient support to force compliance? Perhaps. But now, with the introduction of CSA 2010, regulators and trucking companies alike will now have the tools and real-time data at their disposal to enable them to better manage compliance and to support both the company and the driver. The positive outcome of all of this may end being safer roads, greater respect for professional drivers and motor carriers and real protection for those carriers that comply with the rules.