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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: South Dakota Motor Carrier Services 2006 Customer Satisfaction Assessment
Project Researcher: David Bender,
Project Manager: Dave Huft
Research Period: 3/1/2006 - 9/30/2006
Cost: $85,706.00

Problem Statement:In response to concerns raised during the 2003 session of the South Dakota State Legislature regarding motor carrier enforcement policies and activities, the Motor Carrier Enforcement unit of the South Dakota Highway Patrol commissioned its first customer satisfaction assessment. The assessment, conducted in the fall of 2003, involved surveys of three trucking industry segments and Motor Carrier Enforcement staff. The South Dakota Highway Patrol and other state agencies involved in motor carrier regulation responded to the findings of the assessment by:
  • redefining its mission regarding motor carriers to emphasize a balance of service and enforcement, renaming the Motor Carrier Enforcement unit to Motor Carrier Services, and informing all staff of assessment findings;

  • improving processes for recruiting, training, and evaluating staff to emphasize communication skills and customer service;

  • providing more and clearer information to the trucking industry through public meetings, a comprehensive web site, informational brochures, and an entirely rewritten South Dakota Commercial and Agricultural Vehicle Handbook;

  • enhancing services to the motor carrier industry through online automated permitting, electronic screening and more efficient vehicle inspection at the Interstate 29 port of entry north of Sioux City, and reducing the duration of inspections.

  • While qualitative evidence suggests that these changes have contributed to improved customer satisfaction, objective research is needed to assess progress and to identify opportunities for additional improvements.

    Importance: The trucking industry is vital to South Dakotas residents and economy, because most commodities and retail products are transported by truck. Likewise, compliance with safety and weight regulations is essential to protecting the publics welfare and capital investment in the state highway system. By identifying ways to enhance cooperation between the trucking industry and regulatory agencies, the mutual interests of the industry, government, and the public will be served.


    Research Objectives:
    1  To assess perceptions regarding the importance of motor carrier regulatory services and satisfaction with their delivery within the trucking industry and the SD Highway Patrol's Motor Carrier Services unit.
    2  To identify underlying causes or factors that shape these perceptions.
    3  To assess the effectiveness of changes made in response to the 2003 motor carrier customer satisfaction assessment.
    4  To identify opportunities for business improvements that will enable the trucking industry and regulatory agencies to strengthen collaboration while maintaining highway safety.

    Research Tasks:
    1  Meet with the project's technical panel to review project scope and work plan.
    2  Through a review of applicable literature and interviews with individual stakeholders, identify new and ongoing issues of key interest to motor carriers and regulatory agency personnel in South Dakota.
    3  Prepare, for approval of the project's technical panel, a technical memorandum that summarizes key issues and proposes discussion guides for focus groups with motor carriers and Motor Carrier Services staff.
    4  Upon approval of the project's technical panel, conduct focus groups with motor carrier segments and Motor Carrier Services staff in each of four geographical regions of the state.
    5  Prepare, for approval of the project's technical panel, a technical memorandum that summarizes focus group findings and proposes survey instruments for motor carriers and Motor Carrier Services staff.
    6  Upon approval of the project's technical panel, conduct surveys of three motor carrier segments (commercial carriers, farmers and ranchers who use trucks in the course of their businesses, and businesses who operate their own trucks in the course of
    7  Analyze and summarize survey results to quantify perceptions and to identify key issues requiring further analysis.
    8  Through interviews of knowledgeable individuals, acquire information necessary to clarify and resolve key issues requiring further analysis.
    9  On the basis of findings from the literature review, interviews, focus groups, and surveys, recommend actions that the motor carrier industry and regulatory agencies can apply to improve working relationships.
    10  Prepare a final report and executive summary of the research methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
    11  Prepare and make executive presentations to the SDDOT Research Review Board, Motor Carrier Services staff, and the South Dakota Trucking Association at the conclusion of the project.

    Documents Available:

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