Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics are ready for the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program – a new way to measure and address commercial motor vehicle safety. The CSA initiative aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FMCSA’s enforcement and compliance program to reduce commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities and injuries by:
- Identifying unsafe carrier and driver behaviors that lead to crashes
- Using all roadside inspections results and crash reports to identify safety deficiencies
- Enabling more carriers to be contacted earlier and more frequently
- Improving efficiency of investigations by focusing on unsafe behaviors, identifying root causes, and defining and requiring corrective actions
- Employing a variety of interventions tailored to problems
- Requiring sustained accountability of carriers
CSA replaces SafeStat, the FMCSA’s former safety operational program that limits its analysis of data to violations that result in out-of-service orders. But with CSA, all safety violations are included in the metrics. The stringent safety program comprises three new core components: a Safety Measurement System (SMS), an intervention process and tools that address violations and their causes, and an evaluation of safety performance.
Compared with SafeStat’s emphasis on only four behaviors, SMS focuses on seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Improper Loading/Cargo Securement, and Crash Indicator.
“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has amped up the ability to weigh the performance of drivers,” said Steve Bezner, safety specialist, Penske Truck Leasing. “CSA also measures each motor carrier in peer groups and allows carriers to have more visibility of their behavior and their drivers’ behaviors. Motor carriers can see where the negative behaviors are and take care of them before they get out of hand.”
Penske Spreads Safety Word to Customers
Over the last 12-months, Penske Truck Leasing had been educating its customers about CSA through bulletins, webinars and Discovery Forums – a series of educational open houses for commercial fleet owners and fleet managers where Penske’s certified transportation professionals and other fleet experts discussed relevant industry topics in addition to CSA.
Driver Documentation and Vehicle Maintenance
Penske already has a rigorous process in place that requires commercial drivers to complete thorough pre- and post-trip Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR).
“Accurate documentation by drivers is more critical than ever,” said Mike Hasinec, vice president, maintenance systems and support, Penske Truck Leasing. “We want to make sure we’re quickly completing what needs to be repaired on each unit, so drivers can do their jobs safely and efficiently.
“From a maintenance standpoint CSA hasn’t had a huge impact on us,” Hasinec added. “We already have best industry practices in place and our in-house maintenance standards are designed to exceed federal standards, which will make this initiative a seamless process for our customers.”
SMS Data Accuracy Challenges Fleets
One challenge Penske Truck Leasing and other fleets face is the time-consuming process of monitoring for data inaccuracies and challenging them within CSA’s system.
“The one challenge we have is ensuring the data shown in CSA’s SMS accurately reflects our safety efforts and record,” said Barry Kemper, vice president, insurance risk management, Penske Truck Leasing. “What happens quite often is a driver for another company is driving one of our rental trucks. If that driver commits a moving violation, law enforcement often logs that violation against our DOT number and not the actual carrier’s DOT number. Errors like this can provide a false sense of our safety record. We have an established monitoring program already in place and we are regularly challenging any incorrect data we see in the system.”
Safety is Top Priority at Penske Logistics
Penske Logistics has been busy preparing its 2,700 drivers for the complexities of the new CSA initiative. Penske drivers received comprehensive training – and will continue to receive ongoing training – to help them understand the CSA metrics, its impact on the company and how their individual performance affects their own driving record and Penske’s safety assessment.
A Penske Logistics driver for 15 years, John Merritts has logged more than 2 million accident-free miles in three decades of driving tractor trailers. He is a supporter of CSA for the accountability it brings to the industry.
“I think CSA is great for carriers and drivers who are breaking the rules – especially if their inadequacies are causing injuries to themselves or others,” said Merritts, who was 2007’s Truck Renting and Leasing Association Driver of the Year. “I truly believe Penske’s been parallel in keeping drivers and other motorists safe with its safety practices and measures. So for us, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.”
In August 2010, the FMCSA released the new CSA BASIC scores. Penske Logistics’ CSA metrics compared very favorably to its carrier peer groups. Following the mid-Dec. release of CSA’s SMS data, Penske Logistics continued to post commendable safety statistics.
“We will communicate monthly with our field operating personnel to review our updated scores and how these metrics numbers can be improved,” said Stanley Stone, vice president, safety for Penske Logistics. “Safety is critical to the success of our customers and to the growth of our company.”
By Kandace Wertz