While motor carriers have been working on complying with CSA, the new federal safety-scoring system for fleets, many shippers have remained unaware of the full impact the new procedures and metrics will have on their own businesses. That’s why some carriers have expanded their CSA training to include their shippers as well as fleet employees.
“CSA is finally becoming a buzz word for shippers,” Jeff Davis, vp of safety for Jet Express and a frequent speaker on CSA compliance, told Fleet Owner. “They have some skin in the game, even though the FMCDA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin.] does not have specific jurisdiction over them. [That is why] many carriers are starting to help train their shippers, too.”
One obvious way shippers will feel a kick will be if CSA exacerbates the driver shortage as predicted, shrinking capacity and putting an upward pressure on rates. But the rule’s impact goes far beyond that. Shippers will also have to scrutinize their carrier review and selection processes and interactions with carriers to help limit liability and exposure to litigation.
“Shippers are getting dragged in when it comes to [accident] liability,” explained Davis. They’re now potentially exposed if a case can be made for negligent carrier screening or if their own practices can be deemed to have contributed to a safety problem, he added, offering these examples of how a shipper could wind up sharing the liability for an incident:
- Did a shipper provide “safe harbor” for waiting drivers?
- Did they provide adequate loading time?
- Do they have a history of long driver detention periods?
- Do their policies or practices contribute to improper loading of vehicles?
One carrier, Averitt Express, has even posted guidelines for shippers on its website, stating that shippers can help Averitt stay in compliance with CSA 2010 by:
- Securing all freight properly, including hazmat, to prevent cargo-securement violations
- Ensuring accurate shipping weight to prevent overloading
- Avoiding excessive detention [time] that could affect drivers' hours of service compliance
- Being flexible with pickup and delivery times
- Completing hazmat bills of lading properly
- Providing proper placards for hazmat loads being tendered
- Allowing drivers access to the loading process for freight securement, especially for hazmat loads
CSA is here to stay and for shippers that do not have a good action plan already in place, the best plan of action may be to call its carriers-- today.