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Why road safety is in everyone’s best interest

Truck driving can be a fulfilling career, but it comes with its fair share of challenges.

I’ve found that one of the utmost areas of stress for drivers and fleet owners alike are driver safety ratings from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). An individual driver’s standing (or DOT safety rating) is critical to their reputation as a motor carrier. It also impacts the overall standing of the trucking companies they work with.

These safety and accountability scores are meant to keep everyone safe, but maintaining a satisfactory CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score can feel like another compliance matter for drivers and operators to worry about. However, when approached with the right perspective, CSA scores can become a key business asset for companies and drivers alike.

The transportation of goods has been a central element of civilization for millennia. The adoption of fuel-driven automobiles as a mode of transportation in the early 1900s revolutionized the transport business.

By the mid-century, trucks had become the main mode of commercial transportation in the United States. The upside of engine-powered vehicles is their efficiency; the downside is that they introduce a whole host of new hazards for operators on the road.

It wasn’t until the late 1900s that safety standards were widely implemented within the trucking industry and the benefits were obvious. Not only does a more rigorous approach to operational safety protect human life, but it also saves companies money on fuel expenditures, insurance costs and vehicle maintenance. Today, the practicalities of road safety for an individual driver are quite involved. Driver qualifications, on-road legality, compliance in operations, equipment management, accident and claims management, and load security are all elements a driver needs to remain on top of to maintain a healthy — or at least sufficient — safety rating. In addition, safety ratings are based on a driver’s accident rate and the vehicle out of service (OOS) rate.

The accident rate is defined as DOT reportable accidents during a 5 year period, and the vehicle OOS rate is based on vehicle inspections over the previous 3 years. The industry has come far regarding standards and processes around driver safety and compliance. Unfortunately, not all companies and drivers approach safety with the amount of seriousness it deserves. Poor safety culture impacts companies, employees and everyone who shares the highway.