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What is a Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP) and are motor carriers required to develop one?

A cooperative safety plan (CSP) is a voluntary structured plan that motor carriers file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose of the plan is for the motor carrier to address any underlying issues that have or could potentially lead to safety issues and improve its performance.

Motor carriers may turn in the CSP on its own or use it in conjunction with a Notice of Violation (NOV). However, the CSP cannot replace another form known as Notice of Claim (NOC). Although completing CSP is voluntary, the FMCSA can also request that a motor carrier prepare and submit this form. Regardless of whether a motor carrier submitted the CSP voluntarily or by request, the FMCSA must formally approve it before the carrier can begin following it.

Examples of what to include in a Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP)

When completing a CSP, it’s a good idea to start with a basic overview of how the motor carrier trains drivers and follows up with them to ensure ongoing safe driving habits. The plan should cover such things as:

This is only a small sampling of general safety issues. A motor carrier can include as many as it wishes.

Address driver drug and alcohol use

Another common thing to include in a cooperative safety plan is an outline that discusses the dangers of drug and alcohol use by drivers, even when they are not actively on duty. It should discuss specific dangers caused by mixing drug or alcohol use with driving, such as delayed reaction time and poor decision-making skills. The plan should then go on to detail the consequences for any driver who tests positive for drug or alcohol use on the job. While most motor carriers use a step-by-step process with progressively serious consequences, the FMCSA may require immediate termination for especially egregious offenses.

How to drive in hazardous weather

Interstate truck drivers see all kinds of weather. For this reason, they need to learn special driving techniques to avoid skidding on icy roads, driving in a downpour, keeping themselves healthy in blistering heat, driving in high winds, and much more. A commercial truck driver’s training should also include how to accurately judge weather situations and understand when it’s just too dangerous to continue driving. Knowing where to find safe locations to pull off the road is also essential.

Pre-trip and post-trip inspections

If a motor carrier comes to the attention of the FMCSA for accidents caused by lack of inspection of its own vehicles, including this information sends the message that the carrier takes it seriously. The plan should detail specific actions the motor carrier requires drivers to take such as inspecting the tires, brakes, and fluid levels before and after a trip.

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