channel 19

Todd Dills

Losing the golden triangle: More proof shippers (mis)use CSA

| July 29, 2013
"We lost our triangle, and it is incredible how much difference it has made. Many of our old customers told me they checked every month to see of they could use us again, and called as soon as we lost the triangle." --small fleet owner J. Webb Kline on shedding his fleet's Hours BASIC score under CSA

“We lost our triangle, and it is incredible how much difference it has made. Many of our old customers told me they checked every month to see of they could use us again, and called as soon as we lost the triangle.” –small fleet owner J. Webb Kline on shedding his fleet’s Hours BASIC score under CSA

You’ll recall the case of J. Webb Kline’s Cream of the Crop Transportation, whose voice was prime in this story presenting a growing chorus of small carriers in their case against the public use of the Compliance Safety Accountability Safety Measurement System. His story of an Hours of Service Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) score well beyond the intervention threshold and its deleterious effect on a good portion of his business was repeated during my reporting in the CSA’s Data Trail series through May, and Kline wasn’t the only small fleet rep or owner-operator sharing such scenarios.

Today, I’m happy to report, he’s got further evidence for federal officials showing real-world CSA impacts — this time around its business positive.

Kline lost business with his negative Hours BASIC score, as you’ll recall — as much as $1.5 million worth in annual sales, he’d estimated — but now that he’s not had a violation in the Hours BASIC for more than a year since the two that put his carrier over the threshold there, his small fleet no longer shows any percentile ranking or score whatsoever in the BASIC.

“We lost our triangle,” he says, referring to the “warning” symbol FMCSA utilizes to indicate a carrier is above the intervention threshold in a BASIC, “and it is incredible how much difference it has made. Many of our old customers told me they checked every month to see of they could use us again, and called as soon as we lost the triangle. Our sales shot up from an average of $4,000 a week per truck to well over $5,000, and often exceeding $6,000 per week per truck practically overnight.”

While it’s “great news for all of us,” Kline says, it’s also a “a glaring example of just what an economic disaster this program is for companies like ours who fall through the cracks of the system. It’s bad enough if it was deserved, but when undeserved, it really sucks.”

Keep in mind, without a single hours violation for a full year, before the May 24 update Kline’s fleet still had “its triangle” marking it as deficient, with a score of 75, above the Hours BASIC’s intervention threshold of 65. Again, it seems virtually impossible for small fleets to show anything but a very negative score in the CSA SMS — a real problem with the system when it comes to score management. At least in Kline’s case his shippers don’t require him to actually show a score, a phenomenon that is a reality in some quarters. For more on scoring dynamics and shipper/broker use of scores in carrier selection, see this installment in the CSA’s Data Trail series.

And if you missed the news from over the weekend, Panther Expedited Services’ Irwin Shires noted oral arguments in the CSA lawsuit brought by the ASECTT coalition over some of these very issues will get underway in September. Here’s hoping the suit results in resolution to the problems — perhaps going as far as getting “this system removed from public view,” as Shires noted. Find the story about his presentation attendant to the Expedite Expo show here.

  • No Reform

    The Pay in the industry is crap…so you get alot of Uncaring lunatic drivers..what do you expect? Some oth these new guys just trying out trucking and decide it sucks and make a joke out of it. many of the illegal aliens that are driving around in trucks dont care about anything either…it is plenty dangerous on our highways today..The job is a P.O.S. who would give a damn anyway?

  • FishTire

    When you get back ton the yard hang up your keys and clean out your truck.

  • Pingback: More CSA Blues; This Time Affecting Major Expedite Carriers

  • Andrea Sitler PhD DsC

    The scoring needs to be kept private until the bugs are worked out completely. Small and team fleets are penalized for just operating. Again, another “one size does not fit all” situation that the gov created. The algorithms work for the mid sector but the ends are penalized even when operating safely. Too many people do not truly understand what they are reading or how the “grade” if you will, is calculated. They look for triangle or not or grade or not. No grade will get you thrown out too in many shipping circles. That does not mean you were bad or good; it simply says you were not selected for inspection. A penalty that prepass holders are subjected too or local fleets due to lack of scale house crossings.

  • the_bat

    I’ve been in and out and around this industry for about 33 years, from driving to consulting, and it seems that, like many other things, it just goes steadily down hill. There don’t seem to be many of those “old school” types who actually took pride in the job left out there. In fact, I get a feeling that the percentage of drivers who’ve been in it for less than a year just keeps getting higher and higher. People come into it, see how they actually end up being treated and how little they actually end up making and they get out of it at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, the attitudes and behavior of a lot of these inexperienced people just adds to a growing public perception problem. And, predictably, just about everything government tries to do to “fix the problems” makes it worse and creates a whole new list of problems. In fact, I think the decline really started in earnest with the passing of the CDL law back in the early 90s. Just my take.


    Funny reading this reminds me of the public perception of truck drivers when my granddaddy was alive n still driving, (him n all his brothers drove trucks, n he started before there were interstates) We never had a good rep, even the “Teamsters” (which we come from as freight carriers before the invention of internal combustion) had bad reps! “JUST A THOUGHT”

  • Reginald Hunter

    Like everything the government does it is screwed up. How about the BBB reporting what kind of job the trucking companies do and let the government do what they are intended to do as spelled out in the Constitution. Can you imagine a country without burdensome regulations where you get to keep your money and spend it how and when you want? Wouldn’t life be grand if there was no IRS DOT Departments of Education, Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture etc. Without the government involvement in our everyday lives we would be free as was intended by the founding fathers. Doing away with the CSA solves a problem that didn’t exist until the government invented it.

  • William McKelvie

    Boy you surely do not have any clue about how the real industry works do you? Most of the HOS violations are FORM and MANNER. Surely you never make a TYPO or get a number wrong, or forget to list an item? It is nothing more than revenue generation. FMCSA knows this, and surely they have NEVER made such mistakes either have they? Yet companies just like the above have been hurt, very destructively because of this nonsense. Most of us smaller carries have been hurt, on purpose, their goal to cripple us right out of the competition.

  • William McKelvie

    Funny you should say that, watched a program where Dpt of AG was involved, they told the farmer to build a fence around the pond for the program. Cows got past the fence, right into the pond. Imagine that. Sorry, but if a cow or bull wants somewhere, they will get where they want to go, gvt approved fence or not.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    I don’t think any one i hual for checks the CSA crap ! All they care about is can you get it there without holding up the ship , My CSA is ok on the other hand my brother Has more of them trlangels than you can shake a stick at . the only thing it did to him is raise his insurance to two times what i pay and we run for the same shippers ,

  • Jimmy the Greek

    That Is true , we are like carney’s ! I had a T-shirt that sead ” We are the people your mother warned you about ” I ride and got it at a shop . All us drivers should have that on the back of there shirts ! And F. T .W. over the left shirt pocket , We are the descendants of seamen past , and some from pirates . lol . not the people you would let your mother or sister hang out with . We all ways had a bad rep , as long as i can rember lol

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Pigs to ! strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.