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How Can Truckers Make CSA Work For Them?

We can’t escape it. We now live in an environment of slick governmental regulations, market pressures, and industry changes. And while many of us lament this “new normal,” might we be looking at it all wrong? Could we make these changes work for us, rather than us working against them?

The fact is this: Operating a rig in a safe manger is now hugely beneficial to both fleets and truckers. There are a number of incentives out there – whether they be regulatory or not – that give everyone a good reason to focus on better safety outcomes. So now that we’ve brought it up, how exactly do we do it?

Safety in Demand

Recruiting and retaining qualified truck drivers begets proper safety. After all, fleets must now work as hard as they can to fully comply with today’s regulatory requirements. What does this mean? Fleets have a compelling reason to find and retain truck drivers you will help them run as safe an operation as possible.

Conversely, smart truckers know that the services of safe and competent truck drivers are in high demand. They fully understand that what they do and how they drive has an impact on both them and the fleet alike.

So keeping all these factors in mind, what should fleets be doing to properly communicate what the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) measurement system is all about? Furthermore, is there a way for them to leverage the elements that make up CSA to attract and retain the best of the best?

Leveraging the CSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rolled out the CSA system in 2010, and since then fleets have come to better understand the ins and outs of this regulatory program. What is less known is how truly knowledgeable most truck drivers are regarding the importance of CSA.

According to a study completed by the American Transportation Research Institute, the average trucker only got six questions correct on a 14-question CSA quiz. The scores weren’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the system from the perspective of the truck driver.

Are you a truck driver who probably doesn’t know as much as you should about CSA? Here are the principles you need to keep in mind:

  • A fleet cannot use the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to evaluate your current driving record, unless you give them explicit permission to do so.
  • The PSP can only be used to evaluate a driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history.
  • Once employed, your safety record can and will have an impact on your carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) numbers and statistics.
  • Motor carriers will not “inherit” violations occurred before the truck driver was employed by them. Only violations logged under their authority will be applied to their SMS record.
  • Did you know that it is up to the truck driver – not the fleet – to keep his or her individual safety record accurate and up-to-date? You can order a PSP record from for $10 by clicking here. Or you can get one free via a Freedom of Information request by clicking here.
  • Looking to improve the accuracy of your report? The FMCSA runs a website allows truckers and fleets to make what is called a Request for Data Review (RDR) if they feel that the accuracy of the data that determines their score is suspect.

When it comes to knowing the details of the government’s regulatory safety measures, there are several things that truck drivers should be doing. Beyond just ensuring CSA compliance they should be:

  • Cognizant of the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).
  • Review and be aware of the FMCSA’s online SMS methodology document.
  • Learn about their carrier’s safety records.
  • Keep a copy of their inspection report.

One thing is for sure, while the CSA program does increase the regulatory burden that truckers and fleets must deal with, it can help improve safety outcomes and be used in a beneficial way for all.

In our next installment on utilizing the CSA to your benefit, we will discuss how truckers and fleets can leverage equipment and technology to ensure constant compliance and perfect understanding of the CSA system.

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