Channel 19

Todd Dills

CSA’s golden triangle more like a ‘scarlet letter’

| April 30, 2014

That’s what two speakers, standing up for the public comment period at the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee’s CSA Subcommittee meeting yesterday, had to say about the system’s Safety Measurement System’s scores. The “scarlet letter” metaphor, particularly, a reference to 19th-century writer Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name about an adultress sentenced to wearing a giant red A by her community as punishment for her crime, came from Irwin Shires of all-owner-operator Panther Expedited Services, where he works as government qualifications coordinator. Shires has “fought very hard,” he says, to get what he sees as fundamental flaws in the CSA percentile ranking approach into public view. Among the most fundamental of such flaws, and he was echoed by some members of the MCSAC CSA Subcommittee yesterday on this, is the very fact of the BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) scores’ public nature.

The percentile-ranking basis, in the Unsafe Driving BASICs, in the small Safety Event Group Panther’s igolden trianglen (with just 73 of the largest straight-truck carriers in the nation), “dooms approximately 25 carriers to never being able to imporve their score to a point to where there golden triangle goes away,” Shires said. “It’s like a scarlet letter that brokers and shippers are using in determining whether to put their freight on a carrier’s truck.”

Tom Sanderson, the CEO of the Transplace brokerage, followed Shires’ testimony with further perspective on how many in the shipping and brokerage communities view and/or are using the CSA program. Sanderson, it should be noted, is Chairman of the Alliance for Safe and Efficient Truck Transportation coalition and party to their lawsuit over what ASECTT sees as FMCSA’s encouragement of public, business use of SMS scores.

One — and not the only one, Sanderson said — shipper customer has of late instructed Transplace to under no circumstances use a carrier to haul their freight that had even one BASIC percentile ranking above the intervention threshold. “CSA is doing significant harm to the nation’s supply chain,” Sanderson said. If problems in the SMS BASIC scores resulted in no more than a misprioritization of law enforcement resources, Sanderson noted, it would be a hassle for motor carriers, but “carriers are losing business branded with the golden triangle” making the issues associated with CSA that much more important.

You can hear Shires and Sanderson’s comments to the CSA Subcommittee in the audio below.

Have you been denied business after crossing the intervention threshold in one of the CSA BASICs? Tell us in the comments… Other thoughts on the CSA program are welcome.  

  • ray

    Dot officer told me that we are only out here to do inspections to put you “out of service” not to put you in service. With that thought the CSA is a one way street. Higher scores to the point of out of service. The corrective action is a bunch of Bullshit. Most people I notice start over with new numbers. But then you risk the fine. I’m speaking for a company that is Oos because of 2 speeding tickets. 3 hos violations. 6 minor maintenance issues. Marker lites, etc. No crashes, no drug, no fitness issues. Just a single truck operation Oos because we got 1 poor driver. If I had 10 trucks this could of been eliminated CSA is a joke!!!

  • DavidMac

    The holy grail of government bureaucrats in any enforcement agency (EPA, EEOC, etc.) has been to quantify the characteristics of the regulated entity. Instead of a reasonable, objective evaluation, the FSMCA wants to quantify violations and interpret that as a fitness rating, disregarding the statistical anomalies that will invariably occur.

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  • B & B

    I have 4 trucks over the road. In the week following the latest hos rule change 3 of 4 drivers were written for failure to go to top line in first 8 hours. Since then one driver ( who I had to fire) was written twice for 15 min over 14 hour rule (not the driving) driver couldn’t count. This put me at 89 on CSA because it all happens in a short period of time. I have been turned down by five brokers in just the last month. I am way under threshold in all other categories but it makes no difference. No drugs or accidents. I think the system is flawed. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.