The Comprehensive Safety Analysis of 2010 will have a positive effect on the trucking industry by reducing collisions and fatalities. But it also will further exacerbate the driver shortage, contributing to a number of changes for carriers. But although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s changes can be difficult for carriers to implement, they have consistently resulted in improved highway safety.

Each economic cycle seems to have phases of driver shortage or perceived driver shortage, and this time it started when better-paying construction jobs began to attract drivers off the road. There are estimates that driver shortages will range from 5 to 15 percent in 2011. Regardless of the absolute number, most carriers are forced to revise their recruiting and retention programs, with some carriers turning down profitable customer freight because of a lack of qualified drivers. Although construction jobs have faded, the impact on the industry has lingered because former drivers are hesitant to return to life on the road while others have been out of their trucks for several years, causing them to fail one component of driver hiring criteria used by many carriers and insurance companies.

CSA 2010 will push some (marginal and at-risk) drivers out of the industry, leaving fewer qualified drivers available for hire. Carriers likely will respond by modifying operating practices to attract drivers, and enhancing driver training and retention programs. Carriers also likely will develop scenarios to get drivers home more consistently, including additional dedicated business (because it’s more predictable), increased regional driver relays, and more intermodal (where drivers primarily do local drayage).

Enhanced driver programs likely will include retraining existing drivers to improve CSA 2010 scores, enhancing new-driver training, and adding more driver managers to improve driver interaction and boost retention.

CSA 2010 is good for the industry but clearly will have an impact on the supply of qualified drivers. For an industry struggling to retain drivers, it is getting even more challenging.