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66 Driving (HOS compliance), Unsafe Driving, and Vehicle 6. Trip planning, routing, and navigation (f). Maintenance. 7. Monitoring carrier CSA scores and other safety per- formance measures (j). Questions 1730 presented 14 assorted carrier practices 8. Driver performance consequences; that is, rewards and first asked respondents to state whether or not they regu- and discipline (d). larly used the practice (yes or no). Respondents used an aver- 9. Loading, cargo securement, unloading, and dock/yard age of 8 of the 14 practices listed. The most frequently used practices (g). were preventive maintenance (PM) schedules, providing "EZ 10. Vehicle safety equipment (e.g., technologies such as Pass" transponders or reimbursing toll charges to drivers, collision avoidance systems) (h). tracking overall company safety statistics, and conducting road and range driving tests with driver applicants. By far the Item "g" (loading, cargo securement . . .) is much more least frequent practice was purchasing advanced vehicle safety relevant to truck operations than to bus operations. Neverthe- systems. Other infrequent practices were using onboard Elec- less, it received a relatively low rating in each: ninth for truck tronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs) and having driver appli- respondents and tenth for bus respondents (zero votes). cants complete a questionnaire on attitudes, personality, or driving behaviors. Several final questions asked for information about respon- dents' carriers and about themselves. Nearly two-thirds of the When a respondent answered "yes" regarding a safety carriers were for-hire truckload, and these were roughly split practice, he or she was then presented with a question asking between national and regional. Nearly one-third was charter them to rate the effectiveness of the practice on a 5-choice bus operators. The mean number of carrier vehicles was 10.1, Likert scale. Thus, only users assigned effectiveness ratings. whereas the median value was 7. Most respondents had All 14 of the practices received generally high ratings among decades of experience; they had been owners/managers for an users; the lowest rating was 2.4 on the 04 scale. Safety man- average of 17.8 years, and in the commercial motor vehicle agement practices used by a majority of carrier respondents (CMV) transport industry for an average of 24.8 years. and receiving high favorable ratings included maintaining PM schedules, conducting road and range tests for driver SMALL CARRIER SAFETY PERFORMANCE, applicants, and participating in peer meetings. Ironically, the ADVANTAGES, AND DISADVANTAGES three least-used practices all received high average effective- ness ratings from those who used them. These were purchas- Stating generalizations about the safety performance of small ing advanced vehicle safety systems, use of EOBRs, and use carriers in relation to larger ones is problematic. An individ- of driver applicant questionnaire on attitudes, personality, or ual carrier's crash and violation rates are reflective of its own driving behaviors. Across the 14 practices, there was a nega- individual practices and operating environment, independent tive correlation of - 0.31 between the percent of respondents of carrier size. Federal roadside inspection data are not based using a practice and the average effectiveness value assigned on random samples; rather, inspections target higher-risk to that practice by users. Perhaps the benefits of common prac- carriers of all sizes through the use of the Inspection Selec- tices are taken for granted, whereas the benefits of less com- tion System. CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) crash mon practices are more readily recognized and appreciated and moving violation metrics are indexed to the number of car- by users. rier power units, not carrier mileage. Other factors being equal, a long-haul carrier or driver will look worse on these metrics Questions 31 and 32 listed ten general areas of safety man- than those traveling fewer miles. In addition, the CSA Crash agement. In Question 31, respondents were asked to select up History metric does not distinguish between preventable and to three items they considered most important; that is, having nonpreventable crashes. the greatest effect on carrier safety outcomes (i.e., crashes, incidents, and violations). In Question 32, they were asked to Given these strong caveats, it still appears likely that select up to three items having the least effect on carrier smaller carriers have higher frequencies of inspection viola- safety outcomes. The ten areas are listed here in their order tions than larger carriers. Recent federal data show both driver of selection for the truck and bus subsamples combined. The and vehicle out-of-service (OOS) rates for carriers in the choice letter is in parentheses. 219 vehicle carrier size category to be more than 50% higher than those for carriers in the 100+ vehicle category 1. Driver selection and hiring (a). (see chapter four, Figure 5). A less recent (2001) study by 2. Vehicle preventive maintenance (i). Stock reviewed 13 different measures of compliance in road- 3. Driver training, orientation, and communications side inspections for seven different carrier size categories. (e.g., safety meetings) (b). Consistent inverse relationships between carrier size and vio- 4. Driver scheduling and dispatching practices (e). lation frequency were seen in this study. The same study 5. Driver evaluation (i.e., violation and incident tracking, found that smaller carriers tended to be less knowledgeable ride-alongs, covert observations of driving, onboard and hold negative views about U.S. regulations and enforce- computer monitoring) (c). ment practices. As noted, these compliance studies have
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67 weaknesses, and it is also not clear the extent to which small 7. Lower productivity pressures in some companies. carrier compliance problems translate directly into greater Some small company owners, especially those satis- crash risks. This study reviewed available statistics on these fied with their existing market niche, may be less inter- issues, but did not include resources to perform new analyses ested in high productivity and company expansion of national statistics. Any statistical study of carrier safety than in maintaining a steady-state operation. For these performance by size must control for the concept that safety companies, work pressure may be less than in larger performance variability is inherently inversely related to car- companies (see chapter four, "Driver Hiring"). rier size. Smaller carriers have fewer safety data points (i.e., 8. Vehicle maintenance orientation. Motor carriers of inspections, violations, crashes, exposure) and thus their inci- all sizes appear to recognize the importance of vehicle dence is more affected by chance variation. This also means maintenance and consider it the foundation of safety. that they will have proportionally more extreme outcomes. This was seen in the current survey and has been seen This is a statistical effect, independent of actual safety risk. also in past CTBSSP Synthesis reports. Company pride in vehicle maintenance may not be a small company Through the project survey, interviews, and literature advantage over larger companies (indeed, the findings reviews it is possible to qualitatively identify apparent safety cited suggest otherwise), but it is a strength to build on. advantages and strengths small carriers have, as well as appar- 9. Recognition of the importance of driver selection. ent disadvantages and weaknesses. The safety advantages The earlier statement on vehicle maintenance applies and strengths of small carriers over larger ones include the to driver selection and hiring as well. Carriers of all following: sizes recognize the paramount importance of hiring the right drivers. 1. Direct manager contact with drivers and vehicles. Most small carrier owner/managers personally select The safety disadvantages and weaknesses of small carri- their drivers and typically are in direct daily contact. ers relative to larger ones include the following: They usually have insight into how well drivers are performing and the problems they might be facing. 1. Management spread thin. Small carrier managers Similarly, most small company managers know every- must fulfill many different roles while responding to thing about their vehicles. They often perform vehicle constant demands. A risk is that they become spread too maintenance and vehicle inspection tasks themselves, thin and are continually occupied addressing immediate or oversee this work directly. There are no layers in concerns rather than thinking and acting proactively. their management structures. 2. Weak business skills. Across all types of businesses, 2. Narrower span of control. Carriers in this study had small company owners are often experts in their oper- an average of ten vehicles and a similar number of ational work tasks but unprepared for the rigors of drivers. This is a narrower span of control than would business and financial management. be found in a larger fleet, permitting greater individual 3. Nonanalytic management. Many small company attention to drivers and vehicles. owners have flexible personalities; they are infor- 3. Greater personal involvement in company and mal, confident, assertive, and adventurous (see chapter work. Both managers' and employees' sense of per- four, "Operational Management and Supervision"). sonal involvement and their work satisfaction are gen- These traits may lead to success; however, a downside erally greater in small companies and work units than is that flexible personalities often lack thorough analy- in larger companies and work units. sis in their decision making; rather, they tend to act on 4. Lower turnover. With few exceptions, driver turnover intuition. rates are inversely related to company size (see chapter 4. Weak documentation. Small companies tend to be four, "Retention"). Retention and safety are positively less systematic and thorough in documenting their related for multiple reasons; one tends to foster the policies, administrative procedures, financial dealings, other. operational records, etc. For motor carriers, this may 5. Experienced managers and drivers. The average leave them more open to vulnerability to enforcement survey respondent in this study had 25 years of experi- actions and tort liability. ence in the industry and 18 years as an owner/manager. 5. Unsystematic hiring for "personal fit." Small com- Lower driver turnover in small companies means that panies recognize the importance of driver selection, but many drivers are experienced. Many small carriers are they are more likely to hire new employees unsystem- family businesses; their owners and drivers may have atically and with fewer formalized steps than are larger grown up around trucks and buses. companies (see chapter four, "Driver Hiring"). Hiring 6. Niche orientation. Many successful small companies emphasis is often on "interpersonal fit" rather than fill a specific market niche, which gives their managers on an objective breakdown of job tasks, requirements, and workers greater knowledge and experience in their and applicant qualifications. Small companies are specialization area. They can better anticipate hazards also more likely to conduct "closed searches" for new within these unique environments. employees rather than recruiting widely. Barrett et al.