Operators losing business because of CSA

| February 19, 2013

In the wake of Overdrive reporting on the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee’s early-February CSA Subcommittee meetings and the beginning of our three-months-long CSA’s Data Trail series, readers have added their voices to the chorus calling for agency recognition of the system’s impact on their businesses. As some brokers and shippers routinely “misuse,” according to the official agency line, carrier CSA percentile rankings in the BASICs (measurement categories that make up the system) in carrier selection, some readers report dramatic loss of business after a high ranking.

J. Webb Kline, owner of a Pennsylvania-based small fleet, said “we’ve lost $1.5 million in sales over the past year because brokers and shippers look at our score [in the Hours of Service Compliance BASIC] and think we’re high-risk, and we lost some of our best accounts because they aren’t allowed to load our trucks even though they need them.”

How did it happen? “I don’t have one, single driver working for me who has one single CSA violation or otherwise — nada — going back 10 years,” Kline added. “Two years ago, I hired an owner-operator, 65 years old with a spotless record, and within two months he had two hours violations — and I fired him. Actually, he didn’t have his duty status up to date, or he would have been OK.” He’d fought the other charge and won. “But none of it mattered to CSA. We wound up with 99 percent on our hours score. The only other violation happened a year ago when an owner-operator accidentally logged a 9.5-hour break instead of 10. Half of his score got removed this January when it was a year old.”

The removal of that violation and inspection put Kline in a different peer group, however, so without any new violations at that point his score actually went even higher, “from 95.4 to 98.3, and yet our [total time- and severity-weighted] points when down by 18.”

As industry, enforcement and safety reps claim to “work out the bugs” in the CSA system, in the words of reader Bryan Pierce, the “system is putting a lot of good owner-operators out of business…. This is really disheartening.”

Pierce’s comments that regulators “can cause damage and not be held accountable for it” suggest owner-operators need to continue showing regulators the problematic nature of the system — to inject a little accountability at the top end, where it’s needed.

Andrea Sitler echoed many CSA Subcommittee members’ views that all rankings should be withheld from public view until the system is fixed to better reflect true safety performance. “We have users with no understanding of what they are reading,” she said. “The data is poorly gathered and the reporting method needs improvement. Until both are done it just unfair showing this junk data to the public, especially when the uninformed general public uses this a grading scale. It is unjustly costing companies and owner-operators loads. Is the government going to be responsible for the lost income due to their negligent reporting system? I think not.”

Following find further commentary on CSA’s impact:

Wayne Yoder: If the FMCSA has determined they can’t determine [crash fault or] cause from a policeman’s accident report, wouldn’t that put into question the validity of any police report? I personally in the last week have received two inspections from one state where a wrong statute was referenced.

Does it make sense that a carrier can go from a 62 to an 81 percentile ranking even though their measure did not change, simply because they had one more inspection with a violation that pushed them into a different carrier group?

Why rank carriers against carriers? Why not factor the number of good vs. bad inspections into the measure and determine a deficient cutoff in each basic?

J. Webb Kline: Our trucks only average 61,000 miles per year and are home every night. We can’t get inspections [to improve our scores] because the trucks cross over the same scales and the cops won’t bother with them even if asked.

Andrea Sitler: CSA was created with good intentions, as are most government programs. But again as most, they go awry. Until data quality is improved, the results need to be kept private. It is just like the tests at schools for the states: children are graded by percentile and not grades (e.g. A, B, C). This is as confusing to most parents as this grading system is to the public. People see 40 and 50 and immediately think failing/failure. While, in this case, 90 is failure, I bet many would see that as an A that do not understand the system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    Sure…the inspector doesnt care about the dumb trucker..why should he? He is well taken care of with a FAT salary…medical benefits….9-5 job…weekends off…..YOU as a trucker are his meal ticket..AND job security….he NEEDS to find SOMETHING wrong with YOU to justify HIS Gravy Job.

  • Jason

    I couldn’t agree more! Its sad that the truckers are the ones that get screwed when the people at the top screw up!

  • JD

    This same problem has happened to our small 5 truck fleet and the brokers and the government need to be held accountable for providing bogus info to the public that they shouldnt have anyway, since this is supposed to be a program to help carriers define problem areas, and the only problem I have is on a daily basis when at least one or two companies say, “we cant use use you because your scores are high”, or ask me to write them a safety letter….Who are they the safety police, I think not. What should matter to them is, “is your insurance good”. PERIOD

  • localnet

    I ran into this same issue with SAFER, they commingled information from another carrier with my unblemished record. It was a nightmare, it was the straw that broke this Carmel’s back. You can’t fight this, all you could do was call and pray someone did their job. This was never handled properly and the damage was never repaired and I had no recourse. My reputation was like that old question used in politics, “So Senator, are you still beating your wife?”.

    So who do you call to get your reputation back? CSA is going to do allot more damage in the coming years, it is another pie in the sky feel good program to save the children that always winds up killing the very people it was intended to help. I’m from the government and I am here to help… The last words many companies will hear in the near future, and you can take that to the bank.

  • Murdock

    they make me sick, you can’t truck no more,you can’t deliver a load of freight without being harassed over ever little thing,I promise you this,stick them in a truck,get paid what we get,work them 7 days a week,never let them see home but twice a month,and I BET THEY WOULD HAVE A CHANGE OF HEART,THAT IS IF THEY GOT ONE!!

  • Del

    This is so true. We have been placed on the flagged list because of some very minor violations. One, the weekend days Friday, Saturday and Sunday were listed as off duty on Monday’s log sheet. It is a violation….they have to have their separate sheet, but, we were placed out of service for 10 hours and we weren’t out of hours. The second was our driver didn’t stop at midnight and log his hours and start his new day. He wasn’t out of hours but according to the law he had to start his new day on a new log sheet and finish out his previous day. I guess it doesn’t pay to travel at night. Does that make any sense? You can’t argue because it just get’s you into more trouble. These infractions had nothing to do with safety…they were done by law enforcers on a power trip. It would have been much more dangerous for that truck to pull off at midnight to start a new log sheet than for him to fill it out when he got to his destination. In both cases the inspector found nothing wrong with any of the equipment so had to find a flaw in the log book so he looked like he was doing his job. We should have been given credit for running good, safe equipment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000251528122 Richard Wilson

    The Fed has no accountability on inspections but plaster info all over the site that the untrained individuals such as shippers and brokers make their own determinations on whose safe and whose not. The worst scenario is that they cut rates and offer to company’s that go our and restart under another name.

  • tony

    The truly sad thing is that even with a good scores the rates are flat. The brokers are killing the small fleets and there is not much the Gov will do to help us. They only give these thieves another reason with this new score system to rip us off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000251528122 Richard Wilson

    CSA is for enforcement not any thing more or less. It’s system that is designed to make drivers and carriers accountable. The problem is who makes the Enforcement community accountable, and if they do false inspections what do they get for their actions, absolutely nothing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000251528122 Richard Wilson

    Actually, it’s an illegal system, if you look at the purpose of the CSA its to reduce crashes, not put carriers out of business so it is actually illegal!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000251528122 Richard Wilson

    Great article TODD thank you, can’t wait for the states scores to come out!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000251528122 Richard Wilson

    Todd, also the fact that if you had a good 1st year, then maybe a few burps in the 2nd year and saw you had a problem and corrected it, when the 2nd year comes around and the 1st year falls off your penalized for the whole year until 24 months later it falls off is you can survive the year!



  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.scribner Justin Scribner

    common sense is lacking in the CSA scoring system. Id a clearance light, 1 of 5 is out on the top of my truck, where does that constitute an unsafe vehicle?

    I had a DOT Agent look at a bolt and tell me it was lose and put me out of service for it, when the mechanic got his 4 foot cheater pipe on his wrench in hopes of tightening it it didn’t budge. how do you fight a false claim?

    if I get a ticket from a cop I get a day in court, what makes the DOT above due process. shouldn’t we be allowed to contest inspections?

    The system is flawed from the top down. we should be allowed to have a day in court if we disagree with a stop.

    then I disagree with the unjustified stops. I think DOT should have to have reasonable cause to stop a truck and search them, not just be able to pull in behind a truck not breaking the law and flip their lights on

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.scribner Justin Scribner

    sounds like their catch all “not reasonable nor proper”. explain that one to me please

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.scribner Justin Scribner

    A broker/shipper should only be concerned with a couple of issues, maintenance isn’t one of them.
    I can understand if you have a company that has a high rate of out of service for being over their hours. then if the company has had a high rate of accidents and the last area is if the driver has a DUI or drug problem while operating a CMV

  • Pingback: Operators losing business because of CSA—- Todd Dills (Overdrive Magazine) | February 19, 2013 |

  • Gary

    It’s not just the small companies, we run 130 trucks and about 500,000 a month. We average one or two HOS warnings a month and very rarely an OSS. We’re in the upper 80’s and can never seem to drop points. If they think 2 drivers out of 130 make a bad company per their scoring methods, we don’t have a chance.

  • Jcjarmon

    I’ve been in a truck over ten years, just long enough to learn the truth. Our government wants us starving. That way they can come to the rescue. People on food stamps don’t complain about the government, or the things they do to the working class. That’s the real difference, its not the middle class and the 1 percenters, its the working class and the takers. Gimme, gimme, gimme, cell phone, free doctors, free homes. Put these people in the kind of dorms we were in in driving school and they’ll gladly move into a truck.

  • bigred

    same thing happened to me in missouri,,Dot saw bolt and said it was loose, air bag bolt, i called mechanic and he could not budge it,,,had to bite bullet as dot had the paperwork already and said he could nt change this,,bunch crap now

  • gunner

    we all know what we need to do, the system is designed to make you work smarter not harder. We all talk about how it has affected us but we still do nothing about it. shippers and receivers dictate when we load and unload with no regard for csa or fmcsa… we united can resolve our dilema. However we choose to do nothing and just let the system beat us up!

  • Mcgyver

    I goofed and had my trailer axles a couple notches off and was pulled in at a WI scale and inspected. He said one corner of one brake pad had a sleight separation and put me out of service and gave me a list of companies to call to fix. The mech. said the state gets a piece of their bill. When he looked at my brakes, which were better than 85% he said ” he shut you down for this?”
    As this was my only inspection ever, I was given a score of 100% I lost so much business I gave up my authority and signed on with a company dropping my income. Even without a truck payment money just wasn’t going towards savings. After a while I parked my truck and took a company driving that some unemployed person could of had…and my truck just sits…

  • ilovdieselsmoke

    i had a customer tell me a few weeks ago when i called to load that our safer-stat score wasn’t up to their standards at this time but if we discounted the haul rate i could continue haul their freight! can you believe what’s going on out here? I’ve got 46 years trucking,3 million accident free-safe miles but i’m being held hostage because of our overall company score. what’s really unbelievable with all the enforcement the same junk is still chugging along with most of the same idiots behind the wheel still operating while sharing the highway right along side me. some out here can’t even speak enough english to communicate at the loading facility or read signs but are allowed to continue truck freight coast to coast. just look at what moves containers out of the ports. it’s sad only a select group has to play by the rules while greed, power,and politics is alive and well!!

  • Mercenary Trans

    I agree 100% with all of u !!! But for years I have simply stayed out of the scales ?? Away from the DOT ect ect ?? If they r doing something some-where I simply do not go there ?? If I find out they r set up in front of me I go to bed go out around them ect ect ?? U can call me what u want but driveing into a full blown DOT inspection that u can’t win no matter how much time n $$ u spent fixing things is pretty stupid ?? I rank that right up there with playing russian roulete ect ect ?? U have no control over what happens to u or your record when u drive into that situation where they r god n judge n jury ect ect ?? We need to be like the old days n help each other via the CB n keep each other informed on what is going on out ahead of ourselves ect ect ?? Yeah I loose a lil time n add a few miles but the lack of stress of playing that Russian Roulete game 3 or 4 times a day is worth it !!!! Let the mexican n raghead drivers go through the scales instead ??

  • Mercenary Trans

    So why sign any tickets anymore ?? Inspections citations ect ect ?? They can’t make u sign anything ?? Yes they can threaten to arrest u but if u sign something u r admitting guilt n like so many others have stated once it is done there is no undoing it ??

  • leapin lizard

    they need to regulate tsa and other govt. bodies as they are using these authorities to racially push people around by blameing others for their stupidities they need to get rid of the european influenced loudmouths in us govt and get the ignorant educated people out of washington

  • http://www.facebook.com/webb.kline Webb Kline

    This is something I’ve talked to the PA PUC Motor Carrier head about. Fortunately, we haven’t gotten nailed for it yet, but it is costing my O/O’s a lot of extra money replacing linings that there is nothing wrong with. The PUC head said there is a problem with poorly constructed brake pads that show cracks on the outside even though the brakes may be nearly new. He is investigating it and admits it is patently unfair to write a driver up for this. He said things like this have happened before–defective slack adjusters and such. But, we live in a world today where the government doesn’t care about consequences to the rest of us because of their policies. These regulations look favorably upon the large corporate trucking interests who played a role in writing these regulation–the role of lining the pockets of the legislators who come up with this nonsense.

  • Tom

    OK, I have the same issues in TX .A little oil leak a bolt loose wire hanging ETC ETC score goes up SO what are we truckers going to do about it.Time to band together enough is enough
    Protest, strike, shut down. comments please.

  • martymarsh

    This is one big game to have all of the big boys in charge of everything. America and the government is so corrupt it stinks to high heaven. But sooner or later it’s all going to come back and kick them right in the ass. They are pushing way to hard.

  • martymarsh

    You are not admitting you are guilty, you are just signing that you got the tickect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    These cops are quickly driving the AMERICAN TRUCKER out of business and have opened the border for NAFTA Foreign trucks to take all the freight…there WAS 1 trucking company qualified to drive here..now its 14 and soon it will be thousands..

    to take over as the cops WEED OUT “bad” Americans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    These CSA cops cant seem to “WEED” out thse illegal alien drivers….are they too hard to see???? There are countless articles about the ILLEGAL ALIEN TRUCKER who crashed his truck into American Citizens….and was CAUGHT..before he tried to run BACK to mexico! These legitimate AMERICANS are being ATTACKED by CSA COPS for light bulbs and Tread depth..when ILLEGAL ALIENS are smashing their 18 wheeler into OUR CITIZENS and killing them…..and NOW they are cheerfully waving FOREIGN trucks onto our soil to take OUR freight and JOBS…….soon there will be only CHEAP freight if any to haul as FOREIGNERS take everything we have.

  • Rayman

    Blah, blah, blah, all this talk is going to put us out of business. It’s time for action (Loooooong over do) . Shut down by region money is the only thing they understand. As for the Department of Tyranny (DOT) when they purposely charge a driver are carrier with bogus charges take them to small claims court and SUE the GESTAPO Officer !!!
    FIGHT BACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    10-4 on CORRUPT and STINKS…….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    Yea…you have to cantact some B.S. caleed “DATA Q…
    and submit your side of the story…like a Rebuttal on the old DAC files…they May or May NOT ever do a damn thing….they really dont care…..its a Joke….even a Lawyer which will cost you plenty may NOT be able to straiten the info out once it’s “in the system”……..its all so rediculous its basically Laughable….but WILL effect your ability to make any money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    I think if you dont sign the CRAP they will take you to jail and you will go before the judge….could be awhile……

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269137418 Mike Jones

    Trucking has become the Numero Uno job of MYSERY!!!! A total Low Paying Ripoff and Nightmare.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.norman.12720 Alan Norman

    This just illustrates the fact that CSA/FMSCA is no longer about safety. It is about a government agency that has turned malignant (government unions, standards of grade, no oversite, voting buying).

  • jon

    their playing trucking companys for higher stock prices.this is very easy to do now! shut down any company that gets in the way of these zionists and their dollars.

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