CSA’s Fallout: The shifting enforcement target as states move on driver violations

| August 07, 2014

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.

West Harrison, Indiana, weigh station in-bound

Take I-74 west from Cincinnati, and shortly you’ll cross into Indiana, topping a hill that overlooks the West Harrison weigh and inspection station. There’s a fair likelihood that state police 1st Sgt. Tyler Utterback will be there, as he was on May 5, when a four-wheeler topped the hill, appearing as if it was part of the grille of the tractor-trailer behind it, Utterback says.

If the truck had had a PrePass unit installed, it might have bypassed the scale, and Utterback would have gotten a clear look at just how close he was following the four-wheeler in front of him. “If I was on patrol,” as he often is, he says, “I would have stopped him for following too close.”

While the close driving didn’t net the trucker’s carrier points in the Unsafe Driving Compliance, Safety, Accountability BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) this time, it was enough for Utterback to determine that the truck was going to be inspected before it ever hit the scales. A leaky wheel seal and inoperative, lubricant-coated left drive wheel brake put the driver out of service.

Targeted roadside enforcement is becoming more common as enforcement departments across the nation increasingly focus on drivers’ on-highway behavior. With crash causation studies highlighting driver error and unsafe behavior – from both four-wheeler and truck drivers – expect more states’ violation profiles to resemble Indiana’s more closely, with most inspections conducted not at a fixed weigh-station location but along the roadside, often after a traffic stop.

Top states for moving violations (ranked as a percentage of all violations issued)

Among all 48 continental states, 2013 saw 29 states increase their attention to moving violations, figured as a percentage of each state’s total violations. Among the top such states (shown above), nearly 3 in 4 saw their moving violations’ share grow in 2013 against other violations. (Access data for all 48 continental states via the interactive maps and downloadable rankings OverdriveOnline.com/csa.)

Overdrive's ongoing summer "CSA's Fallout" series of reports examining news and data related to the CSA program and various enforcement issues now includes updated state data on inspection intensity, violation priorities and more via the maps and downloads available via OverdriveOnline.com/csa.

Overdrive’s ongoing summer “CSA’s Fallout” series of reports examining news and data related to the CSA program and various enforcement issues now includes updated state data on inspection intensity, violation priorities and more via the maps and downloads available via OverdriveOnline.com/csa. You can access prior coverage in the series via these links to Part 1 and to Part 2.

Also, 29 states boosted their focus on hours of service violations.

Maintenance violations, however, showed more stability, with fewer states showing a rise in violations. While 2013 saw a slight decrease in overall violations from prior years, both moving and hours violations grew as a share of all violations nationally – hours by almost a full percentage point.

The reason for Indiana’s prominence at the top of the moving violations rankings, says Utterback, is related to the structure of its enforcement program. In addition to civilian inspectors working the state’s seven scale locations, a small number of troopers are certified to conduct all levels of roadside inspections, with about 200 other troopers throughout the state trained to conduct only Level 3 driver inspections.

“They work the road,” Utterback says of the latter group. “They submit so many non-Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program-funded roadside inspections, and then they’re eligible to work some overtime funded by MCSAP.” MCSAP is the federal program that helps fund state truck enforcement activities.

Utterback describes such officers’ mission: “We want you to focus on areas known to have crashes, and we want you to focus on violations in your area known [to be associated with the] causation of crashes. … They’re crafty at finding moving violations, but we’re not holding their feet to the fire and telling them, ‘Don’t turn in an inspection without a moving violation on it.’ ” The officers engage in targeted enforcement, actively looking for a violation to make the stop and “conduct a Level 3 inspection along with that.”

What that looks like at roadside level is familiar to Scott Carlson, who hauls reefer and dry freight for Pennsylvania-based Regal Service Corp. He was pulled over this year on the Indiana Toll Road near Chicago after making a few passes. The officer “said somewhere back there I didn’t signal a lane change, and he wouldn’t tell me where exactly. I’ve been doing this long enough to know not to start an argument.”

The Level 3 inspection was clean except for the mark that ultimately would go against his carrier’s Unsafe Driving BASIC score – for failure to signal a lane change. “I asked the officer ‘Why didn’t you just give me the Level 3 clean?’ ” Carlson says. “He just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and smiled.”

WHERE THE INSPECTION ACTION IS | Click through the map image above or follow this link for Overdrive's updated analysis of overall inspection activity the nation over.

WHERE THE INSPECTION ACTION IS | Click through the map image above or follow this link for Overdrive’s updated analysis of overall inspection activity the nation over.

Regal’s safety director told Carlson this has become typical for the company’s Indiana inspections. Regal runs about 60 company trucks heavy on late-model Peterbilts and Kenworths, as well as leasing with 10-15 owner-operators. Recent inspections the company received in Indiana, where many of its miles are run, in large part resemble his own, Carlson says. “We’ve passed them all, but they put that warning in” on every one for a moving violation, he says.

Rudy Supina of the DATTCO bus company remarked on the phenomenon at the April meeting of the CSA Subcommittee of FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee. “We’re seeing a huge increase in officers not writing a ticket but only writing [the moving violation] on a motor carrier safety report,” Supina said.

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Supina suggested the practice was a result of FMCSA’s announced decision to honor court adjudications of citations by discounting the associated violations’ weight in carriers’ CSA scores. It’s part of the agency’s attempted fix of a well-known problem with the DataQs system, as related litigation brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association alleged a lack of due process for violations associated with a citation.

Put forward as a proposal late last year, after a court decides in favor of a driver and throws out a citation, the discounting in the CSA SMS will take place through the DataQs violation appeals process from Aug. 23, according a June FMCSA announcement.

As of Aug. 23, there will be relief from violations thrown out in court in the CSA SMS and/or the Pre-employment Screening Program, as shown in this chart. In order to get a violation removed, drivers and carriers will need to provide documentation of court judgments relative to the citation and associated violations via FMCSA’s DataQs system: dataqs.fmcsa. dot.gov. Violations issued before Aug. 23 will not be eligible for dismissal.

REVISING ADJUDICATED CITATIONS | As of Aug. 23, there will be relief from violations thrown out in court in the CSA Safety Measurement System and/or the Pre-employment Screening Program, as shown in this chart. In order to get a violation removed, drivers and carriers will need to provide documentation of court judgments relative to the citation and associated violations via FMCSA’s DataQs system: dataqs.fmcsa.
dot.gov. Violations issued before Aug. 23 will not be eligible for dismissal.

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In Overdrive’s 2014 CSA survey, however, a majority of drivers reported no discernible change in officers’ citation-writing practice since the DataQs-change announcement. One-third saw the announcement as resulting in a greater likelihood that a citation would be issued.

If Carlson’s example is any indication, such results might show some wishful thinking, given drivers at least can challenge a citation in a court of law. Moving violations marked without an attendant citation won’t appear on drivers’ Motor Vehicle Record, but prospective employers will be able to access the violations via drivers’ Pre-Employment Screening Program reports. The only way to contest violations from that record is via FMCSA’s DataQs appeals process.

WHERE IT'S MOST DIFFICULT TO IMPROVE CSA SCORES | For more detail on where the states fall in rankings of their likelihood to issue a totally violation-free inspection, click through the above map or follow this link.

WHERE IT’S MOST DIFFICULT TO IMPROVE CSA SCORES | For more detail on where the states fall in rankings of their likelihood to issue a totally violation-free inspection, click through the above map or follow this link.

Indiana ranks No. 5 on the list of states least likely to issue a clean inspection. Only 18.5 percent of its total 2013 inspections uploaded without a single mark against the carrier or driver.

On the other hand, more than half of the inspections (51 percent) issued by Pennsylvania enforcement were clean in 2013. The truck enforcement program there in some ways resembles that in Indiana, however, with more state and local officers being certified to perform driver credentials inspections to “capture the moving violations,” says Cpl. Rick Koontz of the Pennsylvania State Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Division. It’s what “really causes CMV crashes – not the lights, the brakes or the tires. It’s driver error.”

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With about 700 inspectors, Pennsylvania in 2013 also changed the make-up of officer-required minimum inspections to include more Level 3 inspections. There was some success last year.

Pennsylvania’s issued moving violations stood at 7.7 percents of its violations in 2013, up a full percentage point and then some from 2012. The total number of inspections performed was way up from 2012, launching the state to No. 2 in Overdrive’s inspection intensity analysis, behind only neighboring Maryland. Despite a high-priority grant the state received from the MCSAP program in 2011 to focus on bus inspections and safety, Koontz says “the majority of our increase in inspections are not of passenger vehicles – they are trucks.” 

  • guest

    What a Load of Crap…you cant do anything wthout Cop Approval..lol
    Who would WANT to go to work each day andbe SCREWED like this?
    Only the trucker gets THIS treatment..no other AMERICAN is ripped off like this…..what a SICK JOKE. You call THAT a job?? You have to be brain dead to work in this HITLER environment……lol

  • jon

    yop….trucks are the major cause so lets focus on them….[/sarcasm]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34vM8iTpcn4

  • Craig Vecellio

    That shows two things that most drivers already figured out: 1)Cops look for telltale signs in deciding who to inspect….a messy cab is a big one, too. 2)They are abusing CSA to subvert constitutional due process. Without issuing a ticket that you can challenge in court, even the new challenge procedure doesn’t fix that. The end result is the same, you can eventually lose your license over it. Insist on a ticket.

  • Zehnhund

    As Pro’s we all KNOW the unpredictable nature of the amateur’s and the usually very predictable nature of LEO’s. We also know that an unbelievably slanted application of Ruled of The Road from A to Z by Leo’s is a fact of life.
    Personally I have literally had a 60 – something intentionally drive into the side of my semi when his lane ended after 4 miles of warnings every half mile on a cloudless summer day because, in his own words, “Commercial vehicles must yield the right of way to passenger vehicles”. Just for one example.
    It’s easy for the politicians to use us as pawns in their grandstanding gestures as it does not require an act of Congress to regulate and pass laws pertaining to Professional drivers and most of what we do and how we do it. Law enforcement is often about arrogance and ego and the easy mark we are. Incomprehensible idiocy abounds.
    Marking a driver for the few seconds of what may have been a miles long game of Cat and Mouse started and continued by the amateur.
    Restricting professionals options in doing their jobs efficiently and safely with their livelihood dependent on both while all but granting the amateur Carte Blanche in the manner and speed with which they drive and after several study’s have repeatedly shown that the vast number of truck involved crashes are the result of actions of the amateur’s.
    Professionals in every profession should be held to a higher standard, but not the only standards.
    Unsafe drivers, equipment and carriers should be fined and if necessary, removed.
    Basic Rules of the Road are the responsibility of all drivers and not just those that drive for a living and must be applied so!
    From the boardrooms to the roadways, this industry as a whole must maintain itself and work to level an appropriate playing field, which, at present, we do not have.

  • Patty Cakes

    no habla

  • Mike Smith

    The government is spending way to much time and money on attacking us, truck drivers, AND not enough time attacking the real mass killers, minority gangs.

    If these anti-truck driver scum are so interested in people getting killed, I say they should attack the gangs, mostly minorities, who are doing much more killing. Read the following:

    “In fact, a staggering 80% of gun homicides are gang-related. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), gang homicides accounted for roughly 8,900 of 11,100 gun murders in both 2010 and 2011.”

  • 5Herb7

    My favorite cops are the ones with bridges already named after them. What can I say?

  • Mike Smith

    “The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute — a leader in truck-related crash research, says ATA — studied 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes to determine fault. 81 percent of the time, car drivers were assigned at fault, says the study, versus 27 percent for truck drivers.”

  • guest

    95% of th Murder Warrants in Los Angeles and Phoenix are for illegal aliens…..they are nothing but Dirtbags.

  • guest

    33% of America’s Prison Population is illegal aliens…the figures are Staggering howMUCH crime these illegal INVADERS are commiting on unsuspecting Americans……promoted by paid off politicians and Greedy Employers willing to encourage 11 million pukes to hop the fence and the CRIMINALS melt into the mix…..

  • guest

    Si…no comprende…lol

  • ironage

    All of this was easy to predict when CSA 2010 was first proposed. Most law enforcement agencies in this country are corrupt…. so their behavior was quite predictable. CSA 2010 was designed to be a revenue enhancer for state and local governments…and it will also worsen the already bad driver shortage problem. No matter how professional you are as a driver and no matter how well maintained your truck is…you will eventually be rendered “unhireable” by CSA 2010.

  • Mike Smith

    I was watching cops in my area. It came to my attention that cops, parked and then stopping cars, giving them tickets, is far more lucrative than going after criminals. Criminals, like gang members have no money to offer the system.

    CSA is a government profit making organization. It must be disband!

  • Mike Smith

    Our corrupted government & the MEDIA have been hiding these FACTS since the 1970′s. In the late 70′s I was appalled to here the Los Angeles media state they would no longer ID the race of those committing crimes. Why? Because L.A. had been flooded with Mexicans, not to mention the on going blk gang crime spree. Difference was/is Mexicans provide restaurants, McDonald’s etc.,with massive numbers of Mexican wage slave labor.

    All this stuff is tied together; which is causing the collapse of our country.

  • Mike Smith

    I do know. Problem is the MEDIA intentionally fails to point this out. (This is why we must continuously point this out. My guess is that minorities are also the main drivers in these accidents, but the gov does readily provide race info).Why? Because the corps profit in all the ways from them. While we are DRIVEN DOWN by all of the above.

    They are enriched. And we are driven down more and more.

  • guest

    No Doubt. We are a third world country already…go to any Walmart and notice.

  • guest

    Absolutely True and this will contine to benefit the RICH…they will destroy America for a profit.

  • guest

    Nasty 3rd world pigs in every truckstop and at every loading dock today…..and they simply Laugh at American Truckers…..they have lots of Aliases and connections to keep them Working…..for low wage.

  • Fageol

    To LEOs and the justice (pronounce that “just us” and it will make more sense) system, truckers are low-hanging fruit. Trucking tends to be time consuming and unpredictable. Thus the chance of citation being contested at trial or the decision of a trial court being appealed is somewhere around slim to none,

    The “workers’ friend, i.e. the Democratic Party (the name “Democratic” is another indication that George Orwell is alive and well in our discourse), hasn’t got the guts to enact legislation that would make truckers as well as other tradesmen have a property right in their employment just like public employees.

    I have yet to see any move from union honchos to do anything to protect their members the way the SEIU, IAFF, NEA and similar unions protect their own. Public employees are supposed to serve all folks including those working in the private sector. But in our Animal Farm world, they get more rights than Tommy Trucker, Larry Laborer, Billy Boilermaker, et al. This this has occurred should show even the most myopic Democrat and liberal truckers and tradesmen that when it comes to their assumed fundamental constituency, the liberals are at best stupid and at worst incapable of doing what’s right.

    The other solution is to make public employees “at will” employees. Such a change would start to even the playing field.

    Were truckers to have the same employment rights as public employees it could be readily argued that these newer kangaroo courts effectively take their property rights without due process.

    Until trades union members take control of their unions, grow them, and get wise to their supposed protectors (liberals and Democrats) the situation will not change and the low hanging fruit will be picked.

  • Thomas Perkins

    ??????

  • Thomas Perkins

    Why not attack the Caucasian gangs in suits and ties that attack whole countries?
    Or the same group of thugs who write laws designed to attack the people’s constitutional rights?
    The same group of Caucasian thugs will rob the elderly and then make it to the Senate, Does John McCain ring a bell as in savings and loans scandal?
    You didn’t say let’s attack the problem of lack of jobs in the minority community you said attack the minorities as though the cause for gangs is the minorities themselves. Bud it’s the white power structure that has ran the jobs out and it’s the white power structure that has been writing laws to rob you and I on the side of the road in the name of safety and you bring up a racist comment like that.
    Your racist comments will not go unchallenged as long as I’m around.
    Now Lone Ranger go back and tell your people to stop corrupting our country show some patriotism and stop being so damn greedy and bring some jobs back to America.

  • Thomas Perkins

    What the hell does that hafta do with truck enforcemen????
    YOU a racist too??? Damn how many cook roaches like you are in the trucking industry???

  • Thomas Perkins

    The media does not mention the fact that more white guys are robbing people from the boardrooms of America because the same white guys pay the media’s bills in the form of commercials.
    Don’t bring that bull shit up here to this site because I’m gonna tell you racist some shit you don’t wanna hear!
    Tell me how many white boys on Wall Street robbed how many people of their homes and still have not been locked up???
    Answer all of em!!!
    When a white person robs thousands of people it falls under one or even a few crimes but if a minority robs one person the charges are stacked against him or her the difference of time served is also mind blowing with the white person who just robbed a whole bunch of people getting a few years while the minority getting close to life or even life all the while some white guy profits off the guys labor who go to jail???
    You bigots are trying to slip these little comments up here on this site won’t say that BS to anyone’s face and so don’t come up here and hide behind your little screens saying the BS!!!!

  • Pingback: CSA’s Fallout: The shifting enforcement target as states move on driver violations #CSA #DriverViolations | iTruckTV

  • Fluffy

    I once had an inspection that put me out of service, a hair line crack in my fifth wheel tower. You really had to get close to see it. Later at the company terminal I looked at a sister truck, it had the same problem. I pointed it out to the shop foreman and informed him it was under recall. He blew me off and released the truck. That’s when I developed an appreciation of inspection stations. The trouble is the focus today has shifted from safety to control and revenue. Example log books came into being because of the extreme driving conditions forced upon the drivers by their companies. It was a safety issue. Now violate your hours service even if it’s a mistake by a couple of minutes and see what fine is. Compare the old regs. To the new ones and how much freedom we lost. The focus needs to be on safety and not punishing the driver it was to protect.

  • Mike Smith

    All this stuff is tied together.

    No doubt the same white collar scum robbing people as you mention deserve to be focused on. They are the same kind of people that have used/paid the media to cover up the MASSIVE minority gang crime.

    Crime that has been hidden by the media since the 1970′s. Why? Because most of the crime was Mexicans, The massive crime was hidden because the corporations used them as a new wage slave. They use them to enrich themselves, and the illegal aliens who live like kings here, in our worst, compared to where they came from. Min. wage is fantastic to them. Pitting 3rd worlders against us; driving us down.

  • guest

    The fact is we are over run by illegal mexicans…Obama estimates 11 Million “slipped thru”?? That is not racist it is a fact….YOU are probably GAY and dont like to hear this kind of talk…because you and yer Butt Boys are still a minority ..Thank God….go die please…..

  • Mike Smith

    It’s good you mention the things you have.

    “Why not attack the Caucasian gangs in suits and ties that attack whole countries?
    Or the same group of thugs who write laws designed to attack the people’s constitutional rights? ” I agree.

    “The same group of Caucasian thugs will rob the elderly and then make it to the Senate, Does John McCain ring a bell as in savings and loans scandal?” I agree.

    “You didn’t say let’s attack the problem of lack of jobs in the minority community you said attack the minorities as though the cause for gangs is the minorities themselves.” The illegal/Mexicans, etc., don’t have much problem getting the jobs thanks to the scum that hire them.

    “Bud it’s the white power structure that has ran the jobs out and it’s the white power structure that has been writing laws to rob you and I on the side of the road in the name of safety and you bring up a racist comment like that.” Agreed.

    As far as your statement, “Your racist comments will not go unchallenged as long as I’m around.” You utterly fail to deny the points I have bought up. All you can do is try and diminish, my over whelming facts, with your worn out cliche using the word racist, as your kind have tried to do for years. By the way, your no challenger to the “truth”.

  • guest

    So True…..white Corp leaders ARE guilty of bringing these Savages up here to destroy our country…bringing WAGES to ZERO and committing Burglaries and Robberies in there spare time….

  • guest

    Trucking was mostly WHITE when I started…early 70′s…..JB Hunt brought in yer NEGRO and then came the mexicans…..you bet truckers were NOT in LOVE with minorities…aint nothing NEW junior……newbie…wheel holder.

  • Robert Smith

    I am an old white guy from the rural south and I am so tired of you stupid rednecks blaming everything that’s wrong with trucking and every issue you somehow bring up illegal aliens and blame them.You idiots are the reason the cops and government walk all over us because you are always

  • Robert Smith

    You are always bringing up the immigration issue no matter what the problem is.Because of this the truckers will never be taken seriously and they will never get anything they want .Most of you are not smart enough to discuss an issue.I glad I quit,because for years I thought we were smart enough to help ourselves but I finally realized we are not

  • Mike Smith

    Some people are utterly unable to follow the dots. Stop looking at the two words, the little picture, and look at the big picture.

  • guest

    Damn Right!! Who else is going to stand up for Americans?? the foreign invading mexican? hahahaha…we are over run by illegals…Obama say 11 Million invaders are here??? It IS patriotic to OBJECT if you have any BALLS!!! The butt kissers….only speak of LOVE for the invaders….no Love for Americans though….lol

  • Robert D.

    its still a white country, even south africa under apartheid, in reality was a white ruled land, racism is what people are, and its stupid, just like any stereotype is.. Love is the cure, I just wish we could make that.

  • Thomas Perkins

    Let me tell you something and this is a fact. If I were gay that would be a badge of honor because they stand up for what they believe in, right or wrong they stand up.
    Can you say the same about truckers?
    When’s the last time that a majority of truckers came together and fought for what’s right?
    I am not a racists in any shape form or fashion I will however say what’s on people’s minds and my mind as well when others prefer to keep their heads up their rectums.
    Yes it stings a little but then again the truth hurts sometimes but it must be said or else we cannot move forward.
    Minorities are told the truth almost daily by right-wing radio and yes it does hurt but to those with an open mind it’s medicine.
    Now take your medicine and let it sink in to your mind soul and body and get better, don’t fight it just let it do it’s job and cure you.

  • Thomas Perkins

    Agreed

  • Thomas Perkins

    Absolutely true and together we must fight for what’s right and to do that we must use peaceful protest and civil disobedience to get our point across.
    It works always has and always will. We shouldn’t hafta use violence to get our point across but if it comes down to that and that’s the only way we can prevent ourselves from being homeless then so be it, just remember that it’s not Jose who came here to survive it’s the guys who keep paying them and just like a cat once you feed em they keep coming back and they sometimes bring their friends and family too!

  • Thomas Perkins

    I think you’re talking to me? Let’s get to the root of what caused those murders shall we….
    It all started in the 80′s remember Iran Contra???
    Also during that time Ronald McDonald Reagan did all he could to cut programs and assist corporations to move overseas.
    Back to Iran Contra, that was the time that the CIA sold drugs to support the rebels and where did the coke wind up? On the streets of Los Angeles.
    Ronald pretended not to know but he did but that’s another story.
    The bottom line is that the inner city was bombed by our own damn government and thus no bank will loan or loan very much to start up a company in those areas.
    The reason why so many people got hooked is because most were weed smokers and coke was shipped into the country on the weed.
    Had Ronald McDonald Reagan and the CIA not sold drugs the inner city would be much better than they are now had he not cut corporate taxes many more people would be working to this day.

  • Thomas Perkins

    Listen in Europe the blacks did the same thing you are doing and that’s how the original Skin Heads got started. Immigrant bashing ain’t cool.
    I met an illegal immigrant and she did what most Americans would not do, she returned my keys I left hanging in my trunk keyhole. She left a message in Spanish telling me how to find her and I did and left her a reward. Although I did not speak Spanish they invited me into their home and they live just like us only in the shadows.
    I met another in central California and he was a field worker and the smell of garlic and the dirt upon him made me realize how blessed we are to have them here and so let’s try to help them and at tthe same time we need to punish those who have hired them.
    They could have hired ex-cons or people on welfare but they put us all including the Mexicans in this uncomfortable position and they should pay dearly.
    How much damage they have done should be looked at with an independent review board and if it time the employers need to serve then so be it but dude just back off they really are good people for the most part.

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