President & CEO, HNI
CSA is changing the atmosphere of the trucking industry, and is impacting motor carriers, individual drivers, insurers and underwriters alike. This legislation brings unprecedented transparency into transportation safety that will affect every level of the industry. The change is already beginning to be felt, with the first wave of warning letters going out to motor carriers last month.
The gut reaction of many is to fight CSA in favor of the status quo. But at the end of the day, CSA is about transparency, accountability and speed of information, which will all add up to one thing: increased quality. When customers and prospects have line of sight to a company’s track record of key safety measures, that company is going to step up its efforts to keep its record clean.
Managing driver performance and predicting accidents are wicked problems that CSA brings to the forefront. These challenges are rooted in a breakdown in collaboration between safety and operations, conflicting goals that drivers can’t decipher, and lack of time to mentor new drivers. The problem here isn’t lack of data – most motor carriers have more numbers thrown at them than they know what to do with.
As I recently discussed at the Truckload Carriers Association Annual Convention, if motor carriers are to succeed in a CSA world, they have to stop relying on lagging indicators to manage driver performance and other safety issues. In the past, companies have waited until something happened to worry about performance issues. Now, with every misstep fully visible through CSA reporting, companies will have to seek out leading indicators to help them predict what is coming down the pipeline, which they can then use to try to adapt and prevent any incidents from occurring.
CSA puts a do-or-die impetus on motor carriers. The market will eliminate those who consistently fail to maintain safety standards. The entire industry won’t suffer – just those that aren’t up to par. Among those who remain after the poor performers are weeded out, CSA will empower fleet owners to compete more on quality and less on price.
CSA provides a concrete and transparent measure indicating which companies have attained high levels of safety. Expect insurance underwriters to develop new algorithms reflecting CSA safety measures, and expect customers to be on the lookout for safer carriers as well. Companies that understand how to maximize their safety with the new data available will benefit from substantial insurance savings and by having a new point of differentiation to offer potential customers.
Implementation of this legislation by the FMCSA needs to be done with caution. Since 52% of motor carriers were initially judged unfit under CSA standards, something needs to be tweaked. It is obviously important that CSA is implemented in a way that is fair – if the rules contain loopholes or “work arounds”, the ability of CSA to raise quality will be limited or skewed.
The transportation game is changing. The time is now to start actively thinking about how to leverage CSA to your company’s advantage.