CSA and Safety Scores

Todd Dills | April 02, 2011

“We asked [ISS] to identify carriers that we don’t have data on,” he says.

Carriers one inspection shy of achieving enough inspections to be ranked in a BASIC will receive an ISS score marking their trucks for inspection, as will those with no inspections or a low inspection rate. Because of new weight given to insufficient data in the algorithms used to compute the ISS score, owner-operators and other small fleets with few inspections on file may have seen their ISS scores jump when the new system went public in December. Others with enough inspections on file to obtain good ratings may benefit from the change. Ronnie Adams, of 30-truck Adams Motor Express, based in Georgia, says inspectors were “hot and heavy trying to get information for the system” on his company’s trucks throughout 2010. He estimates receiving five times as many inspections last year compared with 2009.

Since December, when CSA’s new SMS results revealed data from enough inspections to provide low, safe scores in three of the five public BASICs, Adams says, “we’re not seeing near as many inspections.”

How can I use CSA scores/SMS results?

Safety data and any scoring that may be available can be used in many ways.

PROVE SAFETY TO A PROSPECTIVE CARRIER. For owner-operators applying for a new lease and facing carrier qualifying processes, a pristine PSP is expected to carry more weight, as some carriers look to tie driver mileage or percentage pay rates to safety performance.

Providing an up-to-date, clean PSP to a prospective carrier before being asked is something an owner-operator confident in his/her safety performance might do to document safety performance. Using Vigillo’s resume offering, if your profile is available there, could provide a statistical window for how FMCSA scores you.

REVIEW DATA QUALITY AND CORRECT ERRORS. Leased or independent, you’ll be reviewing information contained within the same database. Make certain all violations or crashes contained in your SMS results or on your PSP are yours. Challenges are conducted via FMCSA’s DataQs portal at dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs director of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says his organization offers members assistance with navigating this process. And Legal Benefits Group proprietor Rickey Gooch (golegalbenefits.com), who offers a CSA Driver Boot Camp for carriers, will help drivers and owner-operators make challenges themselves.


Owner-operators Don Bradley (above) and Robert Shumate.

“The more legal knowledge you have about the situation, the easier it is to get it overturned,” he says. “What the court says does mean a lot. FMCSA does not have authority to overturn the court.”

Company driver Ed Webb, with eight-truck Indiana-based Prime Hauling, was one of the drivers Gooch consulted. Webb’s story suggests two key points about the DataQs process.

1) Go into it with clear evidence proving the violation is in error. Webb attempted to remove an “ill/fatigued driver” ticket he received while taking an early evening nap on a ramp exiting a rest area, which was full at the time. Key to his eventual success was evidence the ticket had been thrown out by the court.

2) Don’t take no for an answer if you are right. When a challenge is filed via DataQs, it is routed back to the inspecting jurisdiction, in Webb’s case the Indiana FMCSA field office in Indianapolis. The staff person he spoke to there initially “made it his point that I was basically guilty,” Webb says, in spite of the court dismissal. Pressed, though, the staffer eventually removed two of three marks on Webb’s record.

SATISFY IDLE CURIOSITY. “I was wondering when this info was going to be available to us,” Twin Express driver Mark Schember commented about Vigillo’s Roadside Resume. But when he registered and logged in, he found out he wasn’t in the system. After writing the company, a week later he said, “I have not received a reply from Vigillo, so I assume that there is no info.”

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