Oral arguments set for CSA suit

| July 27, 2013

inspectionThe suit brought by the Alliance for Safe and Efficient Truck Transportation (ASECTT), filed last year in federal district court in Washington, D.C., will see first oral arguments made Sept. 10, said Panther Expedited Service’s Government/CSA Qualification Coordinator Irwin Shires. Speaking at the Expedite Expo, Shires described the suit as alleging FMCSA has “abdicated its responsibility” to make safety judgments about interstate carriers by encouraging shippers and brokers to utilize the Compliance Safety Accountability Safety Measurement System’s metrics in business decisions.

For more on the basis of the suit, read this installment of Overdrive‘s 2013 CSA’s Data Trail series and this report on plaintiffs’ written arguments.

Shires suggested another big change in the SMS could be coming online in December, dealing with modifications to the public display of the SMS, a focus of recommendations to FMCSA from the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee earlier in the year. Any changes in how carrier percentile rankings are tabulated, Shires added, would likely be available for preview by carrier eyes only.

Shires emphasized throughout the talk the difficulty for carriers of all shapes and sizes in managing CSA, given the percentile ranking system has turned into a race to improve compliance, Shires said, with little benefit for many in improving performance. “For a carrier to improve, it’s not just a case of having this or that score go down. We need to be able to make it go down at a faster rate than the carriers we’re [being compared to in order to get the percentile ranking]. As a representative of Panther, though, I have no control over how FedEx is improving.” But, as Shires points out, how well FedEx is improving, given the percentile ranking system that is CSA, has a lot to do with Panther’s score.

And, he adds, as carriers continue to tell the FMCSA that this dynamic is just not the right way to approach safety measurement, the agency is “going around to the shippers and brokers and saying, ‘hey look, everybody’s getting better,’ and encouraging shippers and brokers to use the SMS to determine whether they’ll put freight on somebody’s truck.”

There’s an ongoing disconnect, too, between the federal initiative and states’ inspection programs. Underscoring the notion of how difficult score improvement can be for any carrier, Shires shared some of Panther’s inspection numbers, particularly relative to the company’s Unsafe Driving Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) percentile ranking, which until last month had been above the intervention threshold. Despite FMCSA’s insistence that high rankings mark carriers for more inspections — only time, and clean inspections, can improve carriers’ rankings — Panther’s total inspections actually decreased over the time. “You do not want to avoid getting an inspection,” he said, emphasizing that “you want a clean inspection — the more of those you get the better off you and/or your carrier will be.”

Too many states just aren’t using the BASICs to prioritize carriers for inspections, he added.

Carriers who successfully manage CSA, Shires said, will get drivers on board. “It has to be a united effort between drivers and carriers until, and if, we can get this system removed from public view.”

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  • Justin Scribner

    how about when you get an inspection, it is a good inspection, then the state doesn’t submit it. Happens to the company I work for all the time. seems only thing Kansas will report is bad inspections

  • No Reform

    Look at those 2 COPS..who SHOULD be out fighting CRIME are busy poking around some guys tractor trailer. are the Looking for BOMBS?? Talk about wasting resources. Seems like a CERTIFIED mechanic would be doing that job…intead of Gun Toting Cops??

  • No Reform

    We could talk sense with a REAL mechanic checking our trucks…these COPS should take their GUNS and go find a CRIMINAL. We could do simple repairs if necessary at the scalehouse…..these COPS make it like San Quentin.

  • No Reform

    Those 2 COPS are scary…is there a BODY under there?

    They are rather intimidating with those GUNS and Badges and DRILL SERGEANT hat…all this CRAP for a lousy JOB?? In a factory you wont have to deal with this loonacy.
    NOWHERE in the workplace do you answer to Gun Toting COPS for “inspections”.

  • No Reform

    Trucking has gotten rediculous. These 2 GOONS are a prime example of harassing Tyrants.

  • martymarsh

    Money SCAM.

  • http://log18.us/ Mike Tayon

    Just in the last 2 years trucking has become a COMPLETE Cluster Fluck!!!!!! And in California, our trip sheet paper work has become so crazy it makes me want to throw in the towel completely, leave trucking, and start selling DVD’s, and C.B.s in truck stop parking lot! WOW the GOV has F–ked us good!!!!!

  • http://log18.us/ Mike Tayon

    DEFINITELY a racket ain’t it????? :(

  • martymarsh

    We all know it is, but I’m not sure if they think we are stupid or they just don’t care, or both.

  • No Reform

    So True….these goons in this picture are SCARY…Guns, Badges, Drill Sergeant Hats, Uniforms….we just wanted a JOB….this looks like a Crime Scene…..not DRIVER FRIENDLY these days are we. HITLER would APPROVE!!!! Too bad our FATHERS had to kill HITLER AND his GOONS.

  • Dave Nichols

    and when rookie inspectors are doing full blown inspections while in training and results recognized as ok, it is a farce. having a brake pushrod marked an inch behind a stroke indicator tab then given an OOS order, our driver photographed the error and emailed it on the spot to saftey comliance officer. still OOS. total BS

  • safetygirl

    I am not a driver and I am a desk person. I too have trouble filing a dataq in any timely fashion. There is a learning curve with the website as all online programs. I can only imagine a person who does not use the internet for such things daily trying to maneuver it. Besides that there is research. If I need a picture the truck is on the road and has already been fixed anyway by the time I get in in the morning. Then there is research to back up my claim ( I should have studied law for this job) Oh, and in the end, I dont hear back from anyone. I get an automated e-mail and nothing. If the whole process is going to take six months (I’m not sure because I have not heard back and nothing has changed) that is one quarter of the time the violation effects us. It feels like fruitless work.

  • safetygirl

    It feels very wrong that we have to know the law better than the guys writing the tickets. Its not really their faut though. It is the folks writing the laws; people who have very little real understanding of what makes trucks safer on the road.

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