Crashes and interventions: Blitzkrieg probes coming to trucking

| May 03, 2013

The article below is part of an ongoing, in-depth series on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that analyzes federal inspection, investigation and crash data and offers original reporting. Overdrive and CCJ editors have built a site dedicated to hosting the stories, interactive maps and downloadable data at CCJdigital.com/csa.

In FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System, this symbol indicates a carrier’s ranking in a certain BASIC has exceeded the intervention or “alert” threshold, marking the carrier for investigative action.

In FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System, this symbol indicates a carrier’s ranking in a certain BASIC has exceeded the intervention or “alert” threshold, marking the carrier for investigative action.

Previously in the CSA’s Data Trail “Crashes and interventions” installment: “The fault handicap”

 

The passenger-carrying world got one heck of a Valentine from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this year with the Feb. 14 announcement of new efforts to intervene with a group of a couple hundred bus companies it’d deemed “high risk.” The agency would be deploying teams on a “national safety sweep.”

Those “quick strike” teams’ training concluded in early April, and the sweep is well under way. The agency reported early results of “Operation Quick Strike,” their terminology for the sweep, in a press release issued May 2. The operation had shut down three bus fleets after its deployment of 50 specially trained safety investigators targeting “high-risk passenger carriers.”

“We are committed to taking unsafe bus companies off the road,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will take swift action against companies that ignore our federal safety regulations.”

An FMCSA official speaking on background made note that truck fleets could be certain that lessons learned from the experience also would be applied to them – and sooner than later.

A carrier is high-risk if
1. Its ranking in the Unsafe Driving, Hours of Service Compliance or Crash Indicator BASIC exceeds 85 and

2. It has a ranking above intervention/ alert threshold in one other BASIC.

Or

1. It has rankings above intervention/ alert threshold in four or more SMS BASICs.

Agency Transportation Specialist Courtney Stevenson outlined the parameters that define “high-risk” carriers relative to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability compliance ranking system for  attendees of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance workshop April 22 in Louisville, Ky. “FMCSA has a congressional mandate that we investigate high-risk motor carriers,” she said. A high-risk carrier is one “that has a Crash or Hours of Service or Unsafe Driving [Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, ranking] greater than 85, plus another BASIC” above the intervention/alert threshold. And, she added, “any company with four or more BASICs” above threshold is also considered high-risk.

Working with CCJ and RigDig Business Intelligence, a division of Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media, we analyzed crash data over years 2010-12 and inspection and scoring data  covering CSA’s first two years. Find further “Crashes and interventions” installments via this page in the coming weeks.

Working with CCJ and RigDig Business Intelligence, a division of Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media, we analyzed crash data over years 2010-12 and inspection and scoring data covering CSA’s first two years. Find further “Crashes and interventions” installments via this page.

Carriers that meet these standards, the agency says, show crash involvement rates double the national average, not accounting for crash fault, as we’ve reported.

Given that 14 percent of all independent owner-operators show at least one ranking in a BASIC in the CSA Safety Measurement System and the average owner-operator ranking in the Unsafe Driving BASIC is 91, well above both the intervention and high-risk threshold, and 73 in Hours of Service (also above intervention threshold), FMCSA could have their work cut out for them if and when “Quick Strike” moves into the trucking world. (Get comprehensive data on inspection/scoring in carrier size groupings for all segments in this story from March 2013.)

Do everything in your power to avoid traffic and inspection violations to keep scores either nonexistent or low.

 

Next up in the “Crashes and interventions” installment of the CSA’s Data Trail series: “CSA’s Crash Flaw.”

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  • David S. McQueen

    The ultimate goal is to nationalize the trucking industry. All this capitalism, all this profit-making, isn’t good for America. It’s obvious that truckers and trucking companies can’t be allowed operate independently; government control is the only feasible method of managing the private sector. Look how well it worked in the Soviet Union. See the thriving countries of North Korea and Cuba. (Yes, all that’s sarcasm, Sheldon)

  • DE

    I think it is about time for a trucking nationwide strike for about a week to get the gov. to change the rules and get their noses out of the trucking business or they can starve. A week will do the trick, if not, extend it. They will break, this is guaranteed.

  • bigred

    After the comments from some of the “safety guys” monitoring us in these forums i now feeel it is time for the Company owners, saftey coordinators,trainers and dispatchers to be held accountable for whom they put on the roads now. I find it downright hilarious when one them post a rule out the drivers DOT handbook as ,I guess, they think we just fell off the “TATER WAGON”…I think most of us commenting here have a dang good grasp on what the rules are by now..What i really like is when one them says that their drivers are not forced to drive now.

  • EF McHenry

    Once again I’m not sure I agree with you! In fact, I think I’m gonna disagree with you! You say ”truckers & trucking companies,” like they are both equally victims of govt over-reach. You’re wrong again!! The trucker are the victims of corporate driven regulation that target the driver and the competition. Do you see this multi-million, and in some cases billion dollar trucking companies fighting against these new rules and regs like OOIDA?? Well do you???? Not at all in fact they are fighting for them. It’s so disappointing to see intelligent people not get this stuff. Pat Buchanan said it best once about these massive corporation when he said they want to ”socialize the cost and privatize the profit.”

  • Rockwell

    My trucks run local LTL/TL, because of this, inspections are minimal at best as we simply don’t have the same exposure as OTR truckers. We are a low mileage local set up.

    The article states:
    “Do everything in your power to avoid traffic and inspection violations to keep scores either nonexistent or low.”

    Here`s reality for you, we have a NONEXISTENT score and increasingly brokers and shippers will NOT ship freight with us because of it! Even shippers that we have hauled for in the past. It is to the point I’m actually seeking out an inspection to get a score on the board! Even a bad score is better than no score. I actually had to resort to calling a friend of mine who is a state trooper to tell me where/when the next truck inspection will be and am going to deadhead to the site and request an inspection.

    WOW! remember the days when trucking was about moving the freight? No more.

  • Hellbent706

    You make a good point in theory but unfortunately, our government is too stubborn to break. They will simply start hand-picking winners and losers, issuing waivers and exemptions to companies deemed “too big to fail”.
    I own a small trucking company with 6 trucks leased to my authority. My CSA score could go through the roof over-night If just one of my drivers have a single accident or fail an inspection which could spell doom for my company. But this level of scrutiny simply don’t apply to big companies that lobby the GOV with deep pockets and friends in the senate like UPS, FedEx, etc. because they’re NEVER gonna be targeted like small companies with less than 100 trucks.
    When was the last time you seen a large 2000+ truck company get put out of service because of DOT nit-picking? or an Overnight shipment get delayed because of a road-side inspection?

  • http://www.facebook.com/channel19todd Todd Dills

    I know that reality, Rockwell — unfortunately, yes, for many small fleets the system itself presents a double bind. Without changes in the system, today I’d wager that it’s better for OOs and small fleets not to register a score than actually show one, given how high scores tend to be when they do: see this story for more on that dynamic: http://www.overdriveonline.com/inconsistent-enforcement-csa-vs-the-independent/

    If you’ve got a sizable number of trucks, getting inspections could help you in some categories if you can show a score under alert threshold, but watch out what you wish for, I guess. You’l be compared in most public BASICs of consequence (hours, maintenance) to carriers with a similar number of inspections for ranking purposes.

    Best solution to the whole quandary is probably to remove the CSA scores from public view entirely, but it’s unclear that FMCSA even wants to consider that advice — they’ve gotten it from unofficial as well as official sources to date. . .

  • Pingback: CSA Operation Quick Strike – Who’s Next? | Safety Is My Goal's Blog

  • Doug Spurger

    I ran for swift for a few years both as a company and an o/o.They are basically for the rules that will eventually drive the smaller guy out. any shut down or slow down would go pretty much unnoticed because the larger companies would not join in but use it to further hurt the o/o

  • martymarsh

    For the most part this is all garbage, the more they talk the more they lie. If it was an even playing field I could go along with it. But to give you an idea what I’m getting at, let me splain. Also I’m a truck driver not a bus driver.
    I had to ride a bus, Grey Hound, to a trucking job, back when the speed limit was still 55 in Ohio. Going down interstate 71 there was a cop setting in the medium. I was sitting in the second seat back from the front, and had a clear view of the speedometer and it was setting right on 70, the driver never took his foot off the pedal and the cop never made a move, and we all know how bad Ohio is with speeding, or should I say collecting revenue.
    So here you have a big nation wide company, that happens to have union drivers, and they can do what they want.
    It’s still all about the DOLLAR.
    A company like Grey Hound, because of all the people they employ could go out and kill 150 people and still be in business next week.

  • martymarsh

    Sorry, I also left out, this is nothing more than government creating government jobs on our backs.
    That was the hilarious part about Obama’s shovel ready jobs, government only creates government jobs.

  • martymarsh

    You are more proof that this is a scam.

  • martymarsh

    Right on the money, which is what it is all about.

  • martymarsh

    I think your both right to an extent, because there is not an even playing field it is a hard call when your talking about a company with 500 trucks verses a guy with 1. But it would be obvious the company with the 500 is going to get things their way, we see that every day.

  • martymarsh

    I think there is the whole point and problem rolled in to one. Of course a company like Swift is never going to join in, but their drivers can, and it will never get any better unless they do. Do you think Swift can afford to fire everyone? They have a hard enough time getting drivers as it is.
    This is not just an O/O’s problem, this belongs to everyone that drives a truck and until they realize it, they will still be making 22 cents a mile living in a truck for months on end.