What You Don't Know Will Hurt You


By Christian Schenk, vice president product marketing, Xata Corp.

CSA 2010 is many things. To the government, it’s a way of increasing safety. To most fleets, it’s an ever-changing regulation that’s hard to keep up with. To some, it’s a way to create a competitive advantage. And to shippers, it’s a driving force for revamping their carrier qualification process.

Whether they’re shipping across town or across the country, your customers are faced with reduced capacity, higher costs, increased regulation and greater uncertainty. As a result, they’re looking to create more constructive and productive relationships with their carriers — relationships that can help them win in the marketplace.

Carriers that are well-positioned to help will reap a decided advantage, while those that aren’t will begin losing business.

Emphasis on safety

The most obvious change shippers will make in the wake of CSA 2010 is to their carrier qualification processes, which will become more demanding and more data driven. That’s because the one thing shippers want more than anything else is visibility of a carrier’s data.

To ensure that visibility will enable greater control of their supply chains, many shippers are mandating electronic onboard recorders. EOBRs offer real-time visibility of every aspect of drivers’ performance, from hours of service compliance to speed monitoring, from carbon footprint to where and for how long they idle.

You’re probably not as good as you think you are

Just about all parents think their kids are above average. And just about all fleet managers think the same thing of their drivers and vehicles. This is known as the superiority bias, which causes us to overestimate our positive qualities and underestimate our negative ones.

In the past, fleets could sing their own praises, whether they were well-deserved or not. But thanks to CSA 2010, the government now has a way of measuring driver performance.

Here’s what they know about that performance: More than 4,000 fleets with 10 or more vehicles have unsatisfactory safety ratings. And many more are at the risk of failing.

To ensure that your fleet truly is better than average and capable of complying with the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories of CSA 2010 (unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, vehicle maintenance and cargo-related violations, now is the time to install EOBRs.

All EOBRs help with compliance and can also help fleets improve. For instance, electronic driver logs are proven to shrink HOS violations, which is especially important because HOS violations accounted for 45 percent of all 2009 trucking industry citations. And because all information is collected and coded automatically, errors are reduced. Administrative costs are as well.

Choosing the right EOBR

To ensure you choose the right EOBR for your fleet, follow this five-step process:

1. Get smart. Learn as much as you can about your fleet — where it’s strong, as well as where it falls short. Also take the time to familiarize yourself with CSA 2010 and FMCSA 395.16 regulations.

2. Set your key performance indicators (KPIs). Typically tied to your organization’s goals, KPIs are quantifiable measurements that clearly state what’s going to be measured and how. To be effective, KPIs must be:

* Relevant to your success. Many things can be measured, but not everything measurable drives your success. For instance, measuring the height of your drivers won’t help you reduce fuel costs, but knowing how long they idle their trucks will.

* Measurable. For a KPI to be of any value, you must be able to accurately define and measure it. “Be a better fleet” is useless as a KPI because there’s no way to measure what “better” is. Better HOS compliance? Fewer accidents? More satisfied customers? Yes, to all.

* Consistent. Once you put a KPI in place, you must stick with it over time. Doing so gives you benchmarks you can use to measure your ongoing progress.

3. Develop an action plan. This is a simple step-by-step plan to take you from where you’re at today to where you want to be at a certain point in the future.

4. Reap the low-hanging fruit. With the right fleet management system, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can improve, especially if you’ve chosen a system with robust out-of-the-box capabilities.

5. Capitalize on your data. Reports that manually take up to 40 hours to create can be created in less than 30 minutes. And because you have ready access to so much more data, you can make better, faster decisions, decisions that can help you reduce costs and increase safety and compliance.

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