New study highlights state truck enforcement disparities

| July 31, 2014

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released a study evaluating just how the enforcement disparities that exist around the nation affect carrier safety performance, a key concern for many in the industry — from drivers to carrier safety personnel. According to ATRI Research Advisory Committee Chairman Steve Niswander, also a vice president with Groendyke Transportation, “This assessment was ranked as the number one research issue for the industry during our annual RAC meeting in 2013, and its impact on the industry should be significant.”

For Overdrive readers specifically, the issue likewise ranks high, coming in at No. 5 in a ranked list from the CSA survey conducted earlier this year:

The report stresses that the “different priorities and violation issuance rates across states dramatically undermine the uniformity of CSA [Compliance, Safety, Accountability] — a supposedly standardized safety assessment program,” ATRI said in a press release. Analyzing carrier Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) scores in light of different states’ violation rates, study authors attempt to illustrate the variance in scores that would result if a carrier had a different regional operating pattern or if scores were normalized relative to states’ violation rates. 

Overdrive's ongoing summer "CSA's Fallout" series of reports examining news and data related to the CSA program and various enforcement issues reports in its upcoming, August installment on some of the same issues the ATRI report analyzes. Stay tuned for the report, and in the meantime access updated state data on inspection intensity, violation priorities and more via the maps and downloads available via

DATA UPDATE: Overdrive‘s ongoing summer “CSA’s Fallout” series of reports examining news and data related to the CSA program and various enforcement issues reports in its upcoming, August installment on some of the same issues the ATRI report analyzes. Stay tuned for the report, and in the meantime access updated state data on inspection intensity, violation priorities and more via the maps and downloads available via

For example, ATRI’s model calculated one carrier’s Hours of Service BASIC percentile decreasing by 4.2 points, but their Vehicle Maintenance percentile increasing by 12.2 points, if state violation rates were normalized. 

While ATRI’s study documents the necessity for some flexibility in developing enforcement strategies specific to a state’s needs, it also confirms that state enforcement disparities create uneven safety playing fields, the organization says. Also, based on two nationally recognized violation lists most closely associated with future crash risk, ATRI’s research documents the variability in state emphasis on those violations that generate the greatest safety benefit. The 100-page document likewise includes close case studies of enforcement practices and outcomes in California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas and Washington, and seven carriers of varying size, whose safety performance is analyzed according to geographic area. Most carriers analyzed were in the 1,000-2,000-power-unit range, with just one under 100 power units. 


Inconsistent enforcement: CSA’s heat index

State inspection intensity ratings range from Maryland, where 32 inspections per lane-mile of National Highway System were conducted during CSA's first two year, to Idaho, ...

“ATRI’s study unequivocally quantifies what we know is a serious defect in the CSA scoring system – that carrier safety performance as represented by BASIC scores can be dramatically impacted by the states in which a carrier operates based on nothing more than the states’ varying enforcement priorities,” said Brett Sant, Knight Transportation safety vice president and also a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee. “Until these disparities are rectified, peer-based comparisons within CSA’s scoring system will continue to be flawed and of little value as a tool for monitoring carrier and driver safety performance unless accounted for properly.”


You can request an emailed copy of ATRI’s report via this link.

Access Overdrive‘s own newly updated CSA’s Data Trail state-by-state inspection/violation data for the most recent calendar year via

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    I like states like MO and IL that do the “non-inspection inspection”. They ask to pull around and see your logbook license and paperwork then tell you that everything is good, this wasn’t an inspection, have a good day.

    Uh, yes, that is the very definition of an inspection.

    Just because you found no violation doesn’t mean you don’t have to write up a clean inspection report and give the driver a copy and turn it in to the FMCSA.

    The Illinois guy, when asked for a copy of the inspection report told me to get lost or he’d find something to ding me for.

    There are too many state DOT’s that refuse to document a clean inspection, and that is how any safety rating mechanism is getting skewed, and is therefore unreliable to use for anything.

  • Gary

    They only want to do paperwork when it justifies their jobs.

  • Mike Smith

    I had 1 inspection. The frigg’n Nevada H P put me OUT OF SERVICE for a one lose nut. I couldn’t tighten it myself because I didn’t have a 1 1/2 inch socket & breaker bar. I called a service guy who came out & tightened it in 3 mins..

    Now I have 1 out of service, and since I have PrePass and never get pulled in, I have 1 out of service & 100% failure. So in order to reduce this 100% to just 25%, I have to be stopped 3 more god damn times; which costs me time and money.

    This stop already cost me 10 hrs because I could not get to the receiver before they close.

    By the way the Nevada H P has a trucker trap going into Las Vegas from the Hoover Dam, there in the Henderson, NV area, Hwy 93/I-515. Just after the Railroad Station Casino.

    I asked the NHP why he stopped me and he said, ‘no particular reason”. I was the last truck in the line of 3 trucks.

    These stops for inspection are a violation of freedom of movement. I don’t give a darn what the law says.

  • J Tippit

    In the Greater Houston Area, which encompasses numerous law enforcement agencies, there are 18 different law enforcement agencies with the authority to conduct road side inspections on CVE. of that 18, one is Federal DOT, the other is State DOT, and the other is the County. The rest are municipalities. I am not sure but feel this may be a unique situation and with this many agencies in one small area performing DOT Road Side Inspections, there are almost as many interpretations. And with regard to the documentation, a few will document an inspection with no violations, but most only when they find violations.

  • bobby

    If it was loose should just took it off if now on a tree you can run with just 8 lugs Min. On rear wheel need read ur green book you would know this.

  • Deez Nuts

    I ran around Houston for years and always had problems with Pasadena and Houston local dot. I got inspected in Beaumont by txdps and passed with flying colors 3 hours later got pulled over by hpd. I pointed out that I had just passed inspection and received a sticker and was told that it didn’t matter he was going to inspect me also. Wrote me a bs ticket which i promptly fought and won. But it goes to show the lack of uniformity in the enforcement.

  • Arthur W Colwell

    Expierence often comes by making mistakes . Men are not the machines they drive . This system is not aware that.the best often made their share of driving erros .. where is forgivness?

  • frghtr

    Its already put me out of business

  • Chuck

    So tell me what is safe about the first picture, The truck is parked on an exit ramp next to the white line, the officer is parked in the road, and he is standing on the driver side of the truck. The funniest part is this is all done for safety. Bullshit this is all done for MONEY! What happens when the truck has violations now you have a tow truck or service truck in jeopardy also.

  • mike gomez

    same has happened to me in fl and another in ar. …


    Being a OTR driver for 20 years these days if I see 3 traffic enforcement officers a week looking for violators I’m amazed, the roads are running rampid without enforcement. If you want to be a leader with a large following, do the speed limit on a 2 lane road!

  • Mike Smith

    All I said was “1 lose nut”. I didn’t say which one, now did I? You should now this by what I wrote! But, instead you decided it was a lug bolt on a wheel. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.