In our continuing discussion of Sun Tzu The Private Motor Carrier, we think about what the Chinese mercenary general might do if he was hired to run a private fleet for an existing construction company.Last time we talked about the steps Sun Tzu might take in order to:

“Know Yourself” – the first part of Sun Tzu’s best-known quote: “Know yourself, Know your enemy, and prepare the battle-field”
To review, I suggested he might:
Make a list of his assets (CMVs)
Study the accident register and loss runs, as well as moving violations
Review all training records for the most-recent 24 months.
Conduct his own informal survey of the organizations safety posture

Now, we’ll discuss how Sun Tzu might tackle the 2nd part of his most-well-known truth: “Know yourself, know your enemy, prepare the battlefield.”

When you are focusing on safety management controls, who is the enemy?
Some people think the FMCSA is the enemy, but they really aren’t.

I can see how people feel this way; but the FMCSA is really all about saving lives. I could spend all afternoon speculating about how the agency’s inconsistent enforcement effort levels the playing field, giving an advantage to the small motor carriers who don’t have much to lose, while handicapping larger motor carriers who fear being shut down as a result of even one or two mistakes.

The enemy is complacency.

Drivers know they are supposed to pay attention, but they get bored by running the same routes or travelling over the same roads. Periodic, meaningful training regarding safe driving practices can have a mitigating impact. When was the last time they had defensive driving training?

The enemy is fatigue.

The worst thing you can allow is for people to work a long day, then drive 100 miles or more to get home. You have to develop some policies to mitigate this common problem, and you need to communicate them clearly. And, of course, no policy is meaningful unless it includes a monitoring process.

The enemy is bad driving.

In my illustration, you are in the construction business, so you hire machinery operators who may or may not be good CMV operators. You have to have some sort of training standards, and stick to them.

The enemy is drug use.

Too many people – and the percentage is going up – use illegal drugs, or use prescription medicines illegally. Is your drug and alcohol testing system really being administered properly?

The enemy is bad roads.

At least do some research. If you are sending a team from Springfield MO to do a job in Pittsburg, KS, what road will they take and what is the condition of that road? Your knowledge might not always be perfect or complete, but at least you can check the ATRI’s Bottleneck report:

What is the enemy you face?

Is it one or all of these? Or is there someone or something else that bedevils your efforts, as a company, to operate in a safe and professional manner?

Next time we will discuss: Preparing the Battlefield

Mike England

DOT Compliance Help Inc


DOT Compliance Help, Inc.
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