CSA may be an enforcement tool for the FMCA, but you also can use CSA as a catalyst to create transparency and accountability in your organization.

John Simms, vice president with HNI, offered the following tips during a session at last month's Fleet Safety Conference, put on by Bobit Business Media in Schaumburg, Ill.:

1. Create a safety culture.

Everyone's got to understand CSA, and everyone must be accountable inside your company for CSA scores. A culture of responsibility must begin at the top. Responsibilities and expectations must be clearly defined. Give staff the tools to succeed, such as driver scorecards. Provide ongoing training to foster continuous improvement. You have to continue to train people after you get them through orientation. It's not just about driving a truck anymore. Recognize good effort and results. It's really important you have tools in place to measure.

2. Get operations personnel involved.

Distractions are a major cause of serious accidents. Driver managers have the most contact with drivers, but it's important to teach ALL personnel how to listen to drivers. Have them watch for hot buttons such as talk of family problems, money problems, unexplained irritability, or they suddenly become a compliance issue or have performance issues when they didn't in the past.

"If you think your safety department is the one who's going to solve all your issues, you're wrong. Once the safety department is involved, it's too late."

3. Use what you learn from drivers.

Don't think a driver problem is not your problem. Trust your gut feeling. From the person who answers the phone to the biller, it's everyone's problem. Know when you need to spend a little extra time with a driver.

"I've been to so many trucking companies where there's no truck parking at the corporate office. That tells you drivers aren't welcome," Simms said.

"Create an infrastructure to address driver issues. Remember your driver is the cause of your CSA scores."

4. Effectively improve public data.

This starts with the hiring or contracting process. If you do a better job on the front end, you're going to have a better quality driver out there and have lower CSA scores.

"When we look at companies with great CSA scores, they have a very effective hiring and screening processes, and an effective onboarding/orientation program, that lasts for three or four or six or seven days."

Monitor safety management system data, and challenge roadside inspection write-ups when warranted.

"Maintain a good working relationship with your local DOT officials," Simms said. "Those are the guys who make or break you."


HNI is an insurance broker and safety consulting firm that helps companies improve their safety programs in order to help them get the best rates from the underwriting community.