Shippers help keep unsafe truckers off the road
The days of American shippers simply tendering their cargo to truckers and forgetting about the responsibility that goes along with it are rapidly coming to an end as the federal government rolls out its CSA 2010 initiative.
CSA stands for 'Comprehensive Safety Analysis,' a U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. CSA 2010 will use data from inspections and crash reports to evaluate drivers and carriers, and consequently require trucking companies to develop safety improvement plans. Carriers with poor ratings risk fines, penalties and even risk of closure. The FMSCA's hope is to address safety problems before crashes occur.
Like most new regulations, CSA 2010 carries with it a certain amount of risk and reward for the shipping community. While this new set of regulations offers more visibility into carriers' safety records and a better method to measure safety performance, it also brings a heightened responsibility for compliance and vigilance among shippers to mitigate liability. No longer can shippers rely on the carrier or truck broker as a liability shield of sorts in accidents involving reckless truckers.
Don Osterberg, Schneider National's senior vice president of safety, security and driver training, made several recommendations during a recent CSA 2010 webcast (archived online at www.AmericanShipper.com/CSA ).
' Educate transportation managers about CSA.
' Solicit/research carriers' CSA scores.
' Tender freight to carriers with compliant scores.
' Develop the capability to monitor CSA scores once public, and tender freight accordingly.
' Engage legal counsel to ensure defensibility of the chosen approach.
Taking these steps will go along way to help protect a shipper from financial and public ruin that could result from future lawsuits lodged by accident attorneys.
Although the U.S. trucking industry's safety record has improved significantly in the past 20 years, there is always room for further improvement, and unsafe trucking companies and their drivers have no place on our nation's roads and highways. Thus shippers must ensure that safety becomes an even stronger factor in how they pick their over-the-road transportation providers.