Has every trucking professional noticed that no matter what publication they scan, peruse or read, information about CSA 2010 and its parameters is included in some form or another? Of course, this month's column is no different, as the looming change from SafeStat to CSA 2010 will dramatically alter the playing field for every carrier across the country.

The more CSA 2010 is talked and written about, however, the more carriers are beginning to ask questions. In theory, this program has the propensity to create safer drivers and carriers, which, in turn, will make our roadways safer for all who travel them. The general consensus from carriers, though, is one of doubt and uncertainty.

One thing this program makes evident is that the onus will be on carriers to become safer, enforce policies and train drivers more thoroughly. CSA 2010 will be a tool that carriers can rely upon to identify weak areas within their operation and develop programs to strengthen those areas. Through nationwide enforcement actions that generate data, FMCSA will have more information than ever before about the operations of a carrier and its drivers. FMCSA's goal with the program is to use all this data to help carriers improve safety.

Unlike SafeStat, which used only out-of-service and moving violations for its data points, CSA 2010 will use all safety-based inspection violations to score carriers and drivers. In the interest of safety, this approach certainly will provide enough data from roadside inspections to paint a clearer picture of a carrier's safe operation — or the antithesis, its unsafe operations.

While many find it hard to discern anything positive regarding CSA 2010, it is certain that the information derived from roadside inspections will provide any carrier with a more targeted approach to its training methods. For example, while it is no secret that speeding is a major cause of roadside inspections, with CSA 2010, a carrier can actually use real data that proves speeding is an issue with their drivers and begin to transform driver training and retraining to focus on reducing driver speeds. The idea behind CSA 2010 is simple: Induce carriers to address major safety-related issues through remedial training of drivers and by focusing on matters that are most important to the operational improvement of their fleet. In turn, with the proactive approach that carriers will be taking in addressing their CSA 2010 scores, major deficiencies should be reduced, which then will allow focus to be placed on the lesser deficiencies, thus improving the overall safety performance.

In other words, yes, the onus is on the carriers to improve their CSA 2010 scores. Make no mistake, though, the onus was always on them. If implemented correctly, CSA 2010 will provide the tools necessary for each and every carrier to improve its safety weaknesses as a whole, and offer a more targeted approach in doing so. As questions continue to arise over the time line, algorithms and other inner workings of this new safety measurement system, just remember that over time, when all the kinks are worked out of the system, proper application of CSA 2010 has the opportunity to save lives on our nation's highways and save carrier dollars through the use of the targeted safety improvements.

David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn. He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to Safety411@truckload.org.