CSA and Safety Scores

Todd Dills | April 02, 2011

A leased owner-operator’s “score,” or data profile in the DSMS, is important. Leased owner-operators can gain access to the data the internal measurement is based on via the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (psp.fmcsa.dot.gov) for $10. Alternatively, making a Privacy Act request via the FMCSA’s Freedom of Information Act office will net you the same results for free, but it takes weeks.

If you haven’t accessed the information yet, it’s important to do so to make certain it is correct. It will be used by carriers evaluating lease applications, and in the future, it could impact your insurance rates.

Carrier CSA data mining firm Vigillo is offering a driver-focused CSA scoring service called the Roadside Resume (www.roadsideresume.com), free for drivers. Vigillo, which creates in-house systems for carriers to assist in tracking their progress in improving and managing safety and compliance, uses FMCSA’s published DSMS methodology to rank drivers accordingly with scorecards. Many carriers using the system share score information with drivers and leased owner-operators.

Safety Director Gary Falldin, with Transport America, based in the former CSA pilot state of Minnesota, says the fleet scored every driver in 2009, a process in which it involved drivers in making compliance improvements. Albertville, Minn.-based Mark Theis, safety director for Long Haul Trucking, notes a similar in-house process, saying the company used Vigillo’s scoring system to “place our drivers where they rank in their fleet and in a peer group – ours is 200 to 300 trucks.”

However, sharing information with drivers to improve carrier safety scores is not always the route taken, to say nothing of the drivers for carriers who do not use a driver CSA scoring system. “There should be no misunderstanding CSA,” wrote Vigillo President Steven Bryan in January, in support of the company’s Resume product. CSA is built to focus on driver behaviors, “and yet no outlet exists to communicate … scores to drivers. It is a fundamental flaw in CSA to keep the very ‘drivers’ of CSA in the dark.”

Unlike PSP reports based on DOT law enforcement reports, Vigillo’s driver data will be limited to what a carrier has provided; if you haven’t driven for or been leased to such a carrier, you won’t be in the system. As of late 2010, Bryan claimed to have at least some data on more than 600,000 drivers.

The Vigillo system’s limitations are similar to those of DAC report employment histories, offered by HireRight. It’s unclear whether the Roadside Resume will present problems for drivers, as DAC has when data provided by fleets is inaccurate or incomplete.

How to get your PSP data free

• Visit fmcsa.dot.gov/foia.

• Make a Freedom of Information Act request in writing and include your name, address and a telephone number via the mailing address noted on the above web page or via fax at (202) 385-2335 or email at foia@fmcsa.dot.gov.

• Specify you are looking for FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program data that is linked to your CDL, and include the number and licensing state.

• Make explicit you are requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act.

I have my own authority, what about me?

For independents, Carrier Safety Measurement System results are publicly available via csa.fmcsa.dot.gov (click “SMS Results”). Only five of seven BASICs are published; you’ll need a Department of Transportation-issued login and PIN number to access the full results for every category to know whether you have a ranking in any BASIC or not.

Most owner-operators have no ranking, but it’s believed that will change. The Inspection Selection System scores that all carriers receive also changed with the December switchover to the CSA SMS, says Major Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol. He was heavily involved in forming the new ISS algorithm for determining the scores and use of the new ISS and BASICs at roadside.

Savage says the new ISS will help roadside inspectors better prioritize carriers for inspection. Of particular weight in the algorithm will be “serious violations” (see “Red flag violations”) and alerts in the Fatigued Driving (hours) or any two or more other BASICs.

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