Operating trucks safely and within government regulations can cause fleet managers a headache, but through understanding and knowledge, the benefits are clear.
How CSA Compliance Can Benefit Fleets & Drivers
Thanks to a combination of government regulations and market pressures, operating trucks safely has never been more mutually beneficial to fleets and drivers.
On one hand, motor carriers are struggling to recruit and retain highly qualified drivers — which, by definition, includes being safety-oriented — and working to comply as fully as possible with today’s more comprehensive safety enforcement. That means these fleets have a vested interest in finding and keeping drivers who will help them run as safely as possible.
On the other hand, savvy drivers know they are in demand by such fleets. They recognize that what they do on the road and what the carrier does to keep the equipment in safe running order will benefit both parties financially.
Put it all together, and fleets should find that communicating to current and potential drivers as fully as possible what CSA is all about — especially how the elements that drive it must be continuously managed by carrier and driver alike — can only help attract and keep top-notch drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rolled out its Compliance, Safety, Accountability measurement system in 2010. In the five years since, truck fleets have largely come to understand the program and how the scores it generates affect their business. Less certain is how knowledgeable the vast majority of truck drivers are about CSA and why they should pay as much attention to it as their employers.
So, as part of a fleet’s recruitment and retention efforts, it may help a lot to remind drivers of the key aspects of CSA that impact them directly.
The FMCSA does a good job of informing drivers about how safety enforcement concerns them. But, rather than just send drivers to a website, here is what the agency stresses they should know about the program:
- Carriers can only use FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to see drivers’ five-year crash and three-year inspection history from the Agency’s databases before deciding to employ them. The PSP is not to be used to evaluate the driving records of current drivers unless they give the fleet consent.
- Once onboard with a fleet, a driver’s safety record will affect the carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) results.
- Carriers do not “inherit” any of a new hire’s prior violations. Only violations that a driver receives while driving under a carrier’s authority can be applied to that carrier’s SMS record under CSA.
- It’s up to each driver to keep his or her individual safety record accurate. A PSP record can be ordered for $10 at www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov or for free via a Freedom of Information Act request at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/foia/foia-requests.
- DataQs (https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov) allows drivers and carriers to make a Request for Data Review to improve the accuracy of their data that feeds FMCSA’s systems. An RDR can be submitted via DataQs to reflect the results of citations contested in court for inspections that occurred on or after August 23, 2014.
Teamsters Local 690, Spokane, Wash., advises on its website that drivers seeking to comply with CSA should know and follow safety rules and regulations; learn about the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) that drive CSA and how FMCSA assesses safety under CSA; review FMCSA’s online Safety Measurement System methodology document; keep copies of their inspection reports; and learn about their employers’ safety records.
The local stresses that under CSA, “on-road driver behavior will not be filtered or masked, but have a real-time impact on motor carriers.” It points out that negative safety ratings will directly impact drivers in terms of available loads now and their future employability. Under CSA, the local sagely adds, “Drivers are more accountable for safe on-road performance — good news for drivers with strong safety performance records.”
One area that can be particularly confusing for drivers is what can happen to them for piling up a poor safety record. While FMCSA does not assign formal safety ratings to a driver and it cannot suspend a CDL, it can fine a driver for serious safety violations.
FMCSA advises that “safety investigators always systematically investigate drivers with egregious violations when investigating a motor carrier. Additionally, SIs use the Driver SMS, an internal safety assessment tool, to review drivers with strong patterns of noncompliance. Any violations that are not corrected may result in a Notice of Violation or Notice of Claim for the driver.”
There is also a key distinction between how violations are assigned that should be made crystal clear. Per J.J. Keller, a provider of regulation-compliance services, if a driver is responsible for or could have prevented a violation, it will be placed in his/her personal data as well as that of the carrier. What’s more, “this personal data stays with the driver, no matter what carrier the driver is working for.”
Five Things to Know About ELDs
By Jim Park, HDT magazine
Electronic logging devices to track driver hours of service become mandatory in December 2017. Everything you need to know about compliance is spelled out in the final rule, but here’s a quick look at some of the more common sources of confusion — and a few things you’ll need to consider that are not spelled out in the text of the rule. A couple of these points will be of particular interest to really small carriers and independents.
1. Self-certified doesn’t mean compliant. The FMCSA has left it up to suppliers to certify the devices they offer meet all the requirements of the rule. The agency offers a rather lengthy checklist to help suppliers but does no verification of its own. The onus is on the vendor to self-certify their product.
2. The required supporting documents. This requirement could prove to be a burden to some carriers because it takes us back to the retention of paper, or it will require the manual conversion of a paper receipt to some form of digital image.
Drivers are required to retain all related documentation for a period of eight days, but receipts must be submitted to the carrier no later than 13 days after the document comes into the driver’s possession. The final rule states this requirement is to verify on-duty not driving time.
The rule says carriers must retain each supporting document generated or received in the normal course of business, and goes on to say that carriers need not retain more than eight supporting documents. Among them must be the earliest and the latest time indications of all the documentation.
Supporting documentation can include dispatch records, trip records, expense receipts related to on-duty not driving time, payroll records, settlement sheets, etc. They must include appropriate data to link the record to a driver and a date and trip as well as the time, location, etc. Such documents must be retained for six months.
3. There are (a few) exemptions. The list of operations exempt from using electronic logs under the new federal mandate is short:
- Drivers who are on time cards, typically those who operate within a 100-air-mile radius of the terminal. Some casual drivers are exempt as well, provided they work no more than eight days out of 30.
- Drive-away and tow-away operations, typically those that deliver or ferry new or used trucks from factories to dealers or customers.
- Trucks manufactured for model-year 1999 or earlier, which may not have the electronic infrastructure to support ELDs.
4. What happens during inspections. At roadside, inspectors will be looking for a certification sticker supplied by the manufacturer and the handbook explaining how the ELD is used.
When asked to produce the log, the driver may electronically transfer the information to the officer via e-mail using an identifier unique to that inspection request, or via Bluetooth or USB file transfer. The driver may also hand the officer printed copies of the logs if a printer is available. A fourth option is handing the device to the inspector, if possible.
In a facility audit, inspectors can demand six months of logs, in which case the carrier can display the logs on screen or in printed form. Inspectors can also ask to see any edits performed on the logs, meaning they will need the originals of all electronic records of duty status. They will also ask to see supporting documents.
5. Interoperability of different devices. Managing owner-operators’ use of ELDs could be among the biggest challenges here, but certainly not the only one. Allowing each owner-operator to use the ELD of his or her choice could require a lot of back-end infrastructure on the carrier’s part. On the other hand, requiring owner-operators to acquire and use your choice of ELD could pose some hiring and retention strife. Depending on how you manage it, management’s decision could impose a significant cost on one party or the
In a broader context, there may be reasons one brand or type of ELD might suit one division of the company better than another, or in the event of a merger or acquisition, there could be a significant cost associated with “retooling.”